By: Patty Joyce
Isn’t it interesting that, as adults, we suddenly realize our parents did know more than we did as young adolescents? Although I wasn’t a rebellious child, I did my share of talking back, fibbing, casting blame on my younger sisters, doing shoddy household tasks, and barely listening to a scolding that “went in one ear and out the other,” as my precious mother would say. She had a pocketful of sayings and pulled them out at a moment’s notice to emphasize her point. The month of April holds the beginning and the end of her earthly life, which makes it special to me. May I introduce you to her?
My mother, Irene Mercurio LoBuono, was born on April 18, 1914 in Washington, D.C., in a one-room wide row house – now called townhouses. She was one of ten children and the fourth of six girls born in a row. She entered life-eternal at age seventy-three on April 12, 1987. She was flawlessly beautiful and the epitome of a mother inside and out. I think of her every day and am surrounded by the beautiful china, oil and chalk paintings, and ceramics she so lovingly made for her children. I could speak about her for hours and write page after page of memories, but today, I want to share a few tidbits of wisdom and wit she left with me. I tried to capture Scripture(s) that relates, while adding a personal memory. I hope you enjoy this brief interlude as we make our way to exploring the gift of wisdom.
“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”
Alexander Pope, 1734
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 NIV
The importance of this cannot be overstated. I can attest to this from raising a strong-willed child, who at four years old acted as if she was the parent. We had many challenges, but today she is a beautiful and caring daughter of faith. For myself, I made some significant departures from the way I was trained, however, by the grace of God, my life was redeemed.
“Give an inch, and they’ll take a mile.”
A proverb from John Heywood's 1546 Collection
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
Matthew 10:16 NIV
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”
Philippians 1:9 NIV
Jesus and Paul gave instruction to be cautious and discerning.
This proverb speaks to being taken advantage of. Possibly you heard these words from your parents a time or two – I know I did when I would try to take advantage of their good intentions.
“A watched pot never boils.”
Benjamin Franklin, mid-1700s
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
James 5:7-8 NIV
In this fast-paced world, even with all the modern conveniences we have in this country, I can lose patience over incidental issues. And why; it doesn’t hurry the hands on the clock or turn them back. If Jesus tarries, we will have the same twenty-four hours tomorrow. Impatience only harries us and doesn’t hurry anything.
When Mother felt something was amiss concerning us, we would hear, “A word to the wise, and the dumb shall suffer.” This was her fair warning!
I couldn’t find an exact rendition in Strong’s Concordance, but Proverbs 13:20 (NIV) comes somewhat close:
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
On occasion, she would calmly suggest that I not keep company with a new acquaintance believing that their influence would not be appropriate.
And my favorite…
“All that glitters is not gold.”
“Would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?”
Psalm 44:21 NIV
“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
John 7:24 NIV
Occasionally, I would tell my mother about an item I wanted to purchase. It appeared authentic, but was offered at an unusually low price for a quick sale. Our eyes can deceive us at a young and inexperienced age, causing expense and regret. She would remind me to be prudent, because all that glitters is not gold.
Although Mother did not have the wisdom of Solomon, we trusted her instruction and discernment. I, for one, wish I had heeded it in many situations. In spite of that, she was always there to offer help and encourage us to make better choices in the future.
I found that Wikipedia’s definition of wisdom lists the following characteristics:
“Wisdom, sapience, or sagacity is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgment, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, and virtues such as ethics and benevolence.”
This led me to self-introspection: Do I judge others? Am I lacking compassion? Am I ethical in my business/personal transactions? Am I benevolent towards those God puts in my path?
James 1:5 (NIV) tells us what to do to obtain such attributes:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Solomon’s Proverbs tell us why we need wisdom:
“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:1-7 NIV
Isn’t it awesome that Almighty God gave Solomon the entire Book of Proverbs for the world’s instruction? And that includes us. I am sure you will agree that truth springs from reading any proverb. Our minds grasp these words, and we know in our spirit that they are right, just, and fair. The fear (respect/reverence) of the Lord is most assuredly the beginning of knowledge, because knowledge is having the facts, and wisdom is applying those facts to life.
Where can wisdom be found? Job 28 gives us a beautiful and mysterious portion of Scripture in our search for wisdom. I want to share a few verses of this poetic picture in hopes that, at your leisure, you will read it in its entirety.
“But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? No mortal comprehends its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living. The deep says, “It is not in me”; the sea says, “It is not with me.” It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed out in silver. It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.”
Job 28:12-16 NIV
Our Gracious Lord has offered us the knowledge and divine wisdom to live a meaningful, productive, and godly life. Let’s receive it with love and thanksgiving.