August 25, 1992
“Why do I have to take ___________? It’s a dumb subject and there is no way I’ll ever use it.”
When my children offered such complaints regarding algebra or some other school subject, I sometimes advised them that they could be right — whatever data they learned in that undesirable class may never be of use to them — BUT the ability to reason through problems, even the discipline required to take and finish a difficult or “boring” subject, would be an asset contributing to their maturity. I doubt they were impressed.
Strange how I now have to follow my own advice. While preparing for my final semester at Bible college, I politely listened to the registrar tell me I “needed” two courses, two that I really do not think I will ever use and in a subject that does not interest me in the slightest. However, he convinced me my education was not “well-rounded” without them and said the discipline of taking them would be good for me. I was not impressed.
With so many subjects and disciplines to choose from these days, it is tempting to opt out of the boring or difficult ones. Students with specific career goals are certain which subjects are necessary for future needs. Yet even at that, life makes many demands. Can a person really be certain their educational priorities will be sufficient?
Solomon has been called the wisest of men and wrote many immensely valuable proverbs with insights into life’s important subjects. One prudent piece of advice is that a wise person is first willing to learn: “A wise man will hear and increase learning and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” He adds, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (1:5,9:9).
According to Solomon, all learning is good... but he goes on to say there is a definite priority topic for our concentration: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom...”(9:10). In other words, before anyone can be wise, they need to fear God (fear meaning reverence, not terror).
The Bible says we do not automatically fear God but defy Him (something like algebra only more so) thus we have to learn this fear before we can even start learning how to be wise. It sounds like Solomon would put Fear of God 101 and Godly Wisdom 102 at the top of everyone’s curriculum!
But what is so valuable about wisdom (and learning how to fear God so we can have it)? For one thing, Solomon says it is necessary for solid, enduring homes: “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established” (24:3).
Second, wisdom is protection against temptation, peer pressure, and immoral people: “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things... from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words...”
Third, wisdom has more value than wealth or any other material possessions: “For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her” (8:11). This is simply because wisdom brings choices that produce happiness. Solomon says: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding” (3:13).
Solomon also warned that “only fools despise wisdom and instruction” (1:7). Not wanting to be a fool, I decided to take those two subjects I do not want to take. At the least, I will be “well-rounded” and who knows, God may use them to “increase learning” and even impart some wisdom — which would not hurt me in the slightest.