Can you ever become too wise?

Posted: September 25, 2011 in Spiritual Growth
Tags: , , , ,

Have you ever wondered why amazingly gifted and genius people tend to go off the deep end, hanging dangerously close to the edge of sanity? Vincent Van Gogh, Michael Jackson, Howard Hughes… We see glimpses of the wisdom of God in them, instinctive knowledge and ability to do amazing things, but these people end up drowning in waters of their own depth.

What is it that allows one intelligent man to live a long life such as Albert Einstein and another to die young from insanity? Research on people with high IQ concludes that a person’s lifelong contribution to society is based more on his or her unmeasurable ability to use ingenuity and to build working relationships with others than it is on intelligence that is measured by a test. In other words, it takes more than mere head knowledge to succeed in life, even by a worldly standpoint.

No book I have ever read esteems knowledge and wisdom more highly than the Bible. God, the great Sage of all time, is the author of all truth, even truth that we consider “worldly.” In Ecclesiastes he makes no distinction between wisdom to decide a legal matter and wisdom to draw accurate pictures of plant life. God is the author of all wisdom and knowledge, of everything excellent or praiseworthy, regardless of whether the co-creators know that God is their true source. He takes great delight in us when we seek out wisdom like buried treasure.

Knowledge, wisdom, the pursuit of such things is good, right? Therefore, the following scriptures confound me.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'” (Genesis 2:16, 17 NIV)

What did you say, God? That if I pursue knowledge of good and evil, I will die? I thought that I was supposed to pursue knowledge.

Furthermore, check out this one:

“In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness. Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 NIV)

After all his talk about the benefits of wisdom, Solomon now concludes that a little dose of folly keeps you sane.

You may be an intellectual who is irritated by popular blogs that seem to lack substance. You may think that no one fully appreciates your intellect like you do. Well, you are probably right in your assumptions. Don’t get me wrong. Being an intellectual is part of who you are and you should not try to be other than who you are. In fact, God loves who you are, he will wade in your deep waters right along with you. But deep thinkers be warned. There is a danger in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom without relationship.

Relationship keeps us grounded in a truth that can only be experienced, rather than studied. The reason that Adam and Eve’s pursuit of knowledge was evil was because it took them away from relationship. Relationship gives us the innocence we need to ignore unproductive thoughts like self-consciousness. Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were suddenly aware of their nakedness, and it brought them shame. Little kids have little knowledge and little awareness of their nakedness. They also have little shame about anything. Isn’t it interesting that the shame once again disappears from adults in a healthy marriage relationship? It is only in the context of trusting relationship where we are safe from unhelpful knowledge.

If we can retain a playfulness and innocence in life, we will be able to actually increase our quality of life and our delight in learning. In other words, as intellectual divers, we must come up for breath once in a while and splash around. Only then will we truly enjoy the deep like we were intended to enjoy it. We were created to live out of the tree of life. Out of that place, all good things will be added unto us.

“…We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 NIV)

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