The Endless Pursuit

The Endless Pursuit of Wisdom
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
“And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after the wind.”

You do not know until you know that you don’t know! In the pursuit of becoming the “expert” of anything, there is a process that we often go through. We start to study a particular field of research and gain an initial knowledge of the topic so that we soon begin to feel we understand it. At this stage, we might even describe ourselves as an “expert.” Yet, as we continue to learn, we soon realize that the more we know about the topic, the less we know. The actual experts are not the ones who feel that they know everything about a subject; they are the ones who have begun to understand how much they do not know. During COVID-19, with all the controversies around it, a friend told me that they had done internet research and had a pretty good idea of how the immune system functioned.

 

However, when I would ask my son, who is getting a Ph.D. in immunology, about the different problems in understanding COVID-19, his first words were, “What does an immunologist always say, ‘The immune system is very complex.’” The difference between my friend and my son is that my friend does not know what he does not know. My son has spent years studying immunology under some of the country's leading immunologists. He has learned that while modern medicine has learned a great deal about the immune system, there is far more that we do not understand. The more you know, the more you realize how much you do not know. 


This is the point Solomon is making. Solomon had devoted himself to the pursuit of wisdom. He was regarded as the wisest man of his time. Because of his fame in knowing wisdom, the queen of Sheba traveled an estimated 1500 miles to visit Solomon. However, in his pursuit to gain insight, he only began to realize how little he understood. The more he pursued wisdom, the more he realized man's folly. The greater the depth of his learning, the greater the realization that he knows very little. David Hubbard, former professor of Old Testament at Westmont College, would always ask his students at the start of the class what they desired to get out of the class and out of college. They would respond with several different answers, “friendships, experience, knowledge, education, etc.” He would respond that there is only one thing he could guarantee, “You can be sure that one thing will happen to you if your college education takes: your capacity for suffering will increase.” The more we know, the more we realize how much we do not know, and the more we realize how we fail to understand and live by the knowledge we have. 

However, wisdom is more than science and the knowledge of information. Wisdom is the art of understanding God’s moral order and living in harmony with his moral law. Solomon confronts us with the limits of human reason and wisdom. Sin not only corrupted the world, but it also corrupted our ability to know God and his moral law. Yet, we often think we can determine morality through our human wisdom. We can rewrite God's moral laws. 


Solomon points out the limits and failures of our moral compass. In our pursuit of moral understanding, we face our lack of knowledge and inherent folly. So where do we turn to find truth and discover the fullness of God’s moral law? The answer is God himself and his Word. Only when we recognize our limitations can we realize our need for God to reveal his Word to us? 

Determining truth begins by acknowledging that we can never fully grasp it. In understanding God’s moral law, the first step is realizing that we cannot know right and wrong apart from divine revelation. The more wise we become, the more we realize how foolish we really are. Instead of looking at human reason to provide moral answers, we must turn to scripture and allow God to instruct us. We must know that we don’t know and will never fully know God’s moral law. Only then will we surrender ourselves to God’s word and allow Him to teach us. Wisdom comes when we realize that we are not wise and will never be wise, so we must turn to the only one who can fully understand all things: God himself. 

 



Determining truth begins by acknowledging that we can never fully grasp it. In understanding God’s moral law, the first step is realizing that we cannot know right and wrong apart from divine revelation. The more wise we become, the more we realize how foolish we really are. Instead of looking at human reason to provide moral answers, we must turn to scripture and allow God to instruct us. We must know that we don’t know and will never fully know God’s moral law. Only then will we surrender ourselves to God’s word and allow Him to teach us. Wisdom comes when we realize that we are not wise and will never be wise, so we must turn to the only one who can fully understand all things: God himself. 

Determining truth begins by acknowledging that we can never fully grasp it. In understanding God’s moral law, the first step is realizing that we cannot know right and wrong apart from divine revelation. The more wise we become, the more we realize how foolish we really are. Instead of looking at human reason to provide moral answers, we must turn to scripture and allow God to instruct us. We must know that we don’t know and will never fully know God’s moral law. Only then will we surrender ourselves to God’s word and allow Him to teach us. Wisdom comes when we realize that we are not wise and will never be wise, so we must turn to the only one who can fully understand all things: God himself. 


 

 

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