If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
As I’ve aged, I often hear that ‘so and so is very wise because he or she has lived for so long.’ Now that I have ‘lived for so long,’ I wonder if I’m wise.
We attribute wisdom to age, I think, because an older person has experienced more of life. So, I have been thinking is there a difference between experience and wisdom. Or are they related?
When I was a kid, I learned that if you touch a hot stove, you get burnt. Needless to say, that experience was ‘seared,’ literally, into my conscious. From that time until today, I no longer touch a hot stove.
Is that wisdom or just learning from experience?
Here are some quotes that, for me, begin to delve into the essence of wisdom versus experience…
“Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.” Anonymous
“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” Oliver Wendall Holmes
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” Saint Augustine
Those have helped, but a quote from one of the lesser Muppets, Beaker, gave me the most insight into the difference between experience and wisdom…
“There is a wisdom of the head and a wisdom of the heart.”
As Beaker says, I believe that the worldly wisdom that comes from our experience is a wisdom of the head. My head tells me to not touch hot stoves.
Whereas the wisdom that God tells us to ask for in the book of James is a wisdom of the heart. God’s wisdom in my heart tells me to listen rather than speak, to be patient rather than act, and to see the miraculous in my life that comes solely from him.