Can you get sweet water out of a bitter well?

If we need advice from someone, we usually go looking for the most qualified person in that field to find the answers we need. If we need legal counsel, we look for a successful lawyer. If we need car advice, we look for a successful mechanic. If we need advice on how to get somwhere, we ask someone who’s been there or someone who at least knows the area.

Don’t we? When we seek wisdom, we usually look for someone who has more of it than we do. Or am I wrong? Is the search for wisdom some existential quest where you can learn the secret of the universe by learning from someone who knows absolutely nothing? Or someone who only knows answers that are wrong?

From a practical standponit, I don’t think anybody who wants legal counsel is going to look for a lawyer who’s never won a case. And no one will take their car to a mechanic who’s never worked on a car before. And taking directions from someone who doesn’t know where they are and doesn’t know where you’re wanting to go will get you nowhere but lost.

So when we need advice on how to live our lives, why do we look to the world?

Yes, we live in the world. But the world is broken. And so is any of the wisdom that the world offers.

The world says that love is a feeling and that if you don’t feel in love with your spouse anymore, it’s better to divorce and it won’t hurt your kids or your family at all. It’ll actually be better.

The world says success is all about finances and social status.

The world says parents don’t know anything about their kids’ lives and kids shouldn’t ask. Instead, parents need to rely on the school system to teach their children everything they need to know. Parents are only around to provide moral support and friendship. It’s everyone else’s job to raise their children.

The world says everything we see is all that matters. If you can touch it and feel it then it’s real.

The world says when you die, it’s over. Or, if it’s not over, everyone will be in a better place.

This is wisdom that comes from the world. It’s selfish. Temporary. Shallow. False. It’s broken. Just like the world. It’s the kind of wisdom that people come up with because they don’t want to face a higher, better truth.

But let’s get real here, folks. If you want advice on how to live your life, do you ask a counselor whose life sucks? If you want advice on how to live your life and you ask the world, realize the wisdom you’re getting is flawed. The world is broken. And any wisdom that comes out of the world will lead you down a path that will wreck your marriage, your family, your friendships, your career, your everything.

So instead of seeking the world’s wisdom, isn’t it better to seek wisdom that is tried and true? Isn’t it a better idea to seek wisdom from a source that has been renewing and revitalizing lives since the beginning of time?

The Bible verse for today is James 3:17-18 and it descibes the kind of wisdom we need to seek in our lives.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

“Wisdom from above” is God’s wisdom. Biblical wisdom. It’s the wisdom you can find if you read the Bible and do what God tells you to do.

Why is God’s wisdom so different than the world’s wisdom?

Like I said a few times already, the world is broken. And God isn’t. Even by their own natures, the two different kinds of wisdom are diametrically opposed. So of course God’s wisdom is going to be contrary to what the world says.

And when it comes right down to it, we need to decide who we’re going to listen to.

If you want to follow the world, go for it. I know many people who have, and they’re very happy. At least for now. But that’s usually how following the world’s wisdom starts. You’re happy for a little while, you have everything you want for a little while. You have all the money, all the sex, all the pleasure you want until it runs out. And when it runs out, because you’ve lived a selfish life, there’s nobody to break your fall. And then you lose everything you thought made you happy. You lose everything the world told you made you successful. And you’ll be left alone and empty because everything you invested yourself in is temporary.

Following God’s wisdom is a little different. When you start out, you actually don’t have anything the world tells you that you should have. You actually give up everything you own, since none of it belongs to you anyway. You actually have to give up your family too. Your friends. Anyone you love. You have to release them into God’s keeping and trust that anything that happens to you or them is part of His plan. When you start following God, you’re not always happy. And that’s just the beginning. It gets harder. It gets harder and harder and harder to follow God. But the longer you follow Him, the more He makes His faithfulness known to you. Maybe you don’t have everything you want, but I guarantee you won’t lack anything you need. And pretty soon the day will come when you realize that you have nothing but that you have everything. And you’ll have something better than mere happiness; you’ll have joy that endures through every trial and test and hardship.

Can you see the difference? I don’t know about you, but the world’s wisdom sounds like a raw deal to me. All I know is that if you try to get clean, sweet water out of a well that’s bitter and contaminated, you’re crazy. If the well you’re drawing from is bitter, you’re going to get bitter water. Period.