This past week I ran across a “man/woman-in-the-street” interview with people who were asked the question: What’s the wisest advice you have ever received? One young woman recited Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me.” A young man talked less about a pithy saying or expression, and more about a person, his mother. She had told him, “Always make something of yourself. Always keep your mind clear. Enjoy what you do.” An older man spoke fondly of his father and his father’s words: “The best thing you can do for your children is to love their mother.” Yet another young woman recited (with a grin and a sing-songy voice) a favorite saying of her grandmother: “To worry does no good at all but does a lot of harm, it puts frown lines on your forehead and dissipates your charm; whatever is to be will be, that worry cannot change, so put your faith in God’s design and all your fears derange.” Yes, some of the rhymes are a bit forced. But you get the point.
What makes wisdom wise? Or more to the point, what distinguishes true wisdom from foolishness or folly? Both wisdom and folly can appear delightful.. But one calls the uninitiated to eternal truths and evidence of the divine Hand at work since the creation of the cosmos. The other calls to a momentary thrill…a focus on present delights that no matter the attraction now, end in perdition (Prov 7:5ff). The Good News on this Holy Trinity Sunday is that the Wisdom that accompanied the Creator at the beginning of time is the same Son of God who delighted in us so much that he gave up his own life for us. That recreates us. That rescues us from our rest-less pursuits and our fascination and entanglements with the “culture of NOW” (cf. Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance). That’s wisdom worth passing on, so that when someone asks the people who outlive us about the wisest advice they ever received, they’ll point past us and to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…the One who delights in His creation and calls out to us again and again: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov 3:5). The one who says: “Seek me and live” (Amos 5:4).