“I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of righteousness.” Proverbs 4:11 (ESV)
Taking public transportation is a living classroom to observe some people who do not walk in the way of wisdom.
Since living in Oakland for a little over a month and ministering on the campus of UC Berkeley, I rely on the city bus to get me to and from the ministry house where I rent a room. This is the first time in my life I have done this and I must admit it is not my favorite thing to do.
There are many strange people that take the bus. For example, just this morning, on my way to church, a man was sitting in front of me who was having long conversations with himself.
When I got off the bus to transfer to the next one, the bus stop benches were almost completely taken by homeless people who were sitting and sleeping on them, their shopping carts full of junk parked haphazardly around.
I’m not quite used to this. Though I cannot claim to live a sheltered life, this is stretching my bounds of comfort. The Lord is teaching and showing me things through these experiences, but again, I’m outside my comfort zone.
There is a man who rides the bus, sits in the back, and listens to the baseball game–loudly–on his radio. The first time I saw this he was staring blanking in front of him while his radio droned on for everybody to hear, acting as if everybody on the bus wanted to hear the details of the game as much as he did. Then he fell asleep, with the radio still blaring. Evidently, he couldn’t care less who he was bothering.
Oftentimes, we learn the positive side of a biblical precept (in this case the way of wisdom) by observing its negative enactment in realtime (like this guy playing his radio).
What would be a visible example of the “way of wisdom” in the above scenarios? Clearly, using headphones to listen to the ballgame so others, forced to sit in close proximity to you, would not be bothered would be a “no brainer,” but I guess some people are so out of touch with reality that they can’t see the obvious.
The way of wisdom is closely aligned with what Jesus said was the second greatest commandment: love your neighbor as yourself. When we live our lives being concerned about how our actions affect our neighbors, we are walking in the way of wisdom.
The way of wisdom would not be using the public benches at bus stops as crash pads or long term sitting places. They are placed there using tax-payer dollars so the people using public transportation can rest, or seek shelter when it is raining. No rocket science involved here.
Selfishness and self-centeredness are at odds with the ways of wisdom and are mutually exclusive.
How can one break free from the strong chains that bind and blind a selfish and self-centered individual? Proverbs 9:10 gives us the answer:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (NASB)
Are you thirsty for this “way of wisdom”? This is a key ingredient to becoming a wise man or woman: you must yearn for it, much like someone who has just labored out in the hot sun for hours longs for a cold glass of water. Without this prerequisite thirst, one will never step foot on the path of wisdom.
I encourage you to pray and ask the “Lord of wisdom” to open your eyes to see your spiritual need in this area and to give you a longing for it.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8