Cudgels and Scalpels

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness. Proverbs 15:2 HCSB

Particularly in our time under the undisputed reign of “Science,” this proverb is extremely helpful. Many people it seems–both believers and unbelievers alike–think and speak as though the difference between them is merely one of knowledge. Unbelievers claim that believing in God is a willful rejection of what “science” “knows”; many believers can fall into the trap of thinking that simply presenting alternative views and analyses of data could change unbelievers’ minds. Even between believers, addressing sin and breaking patterns of rebellion or temptation or believing lies can be approached in a horribly ham-handed fashion if we think that mere knowledge is enough.

Knowledge by itself is not compelling. If I am in sin, I probably know that it’s sin and wrong and that I should stop. Simply presenting those facts–which are all completely true–won’t change my heart. When Ken Ham presented facts to Bill Nye, the Science Guy was not convinced. Simple exposure is not enough (which Ken Ham agrees with, by the way).

This is why Proverbs is a book of wisdom, not mere knowledge. Wisdom takes knowledge and faithfully presents it so that knowledge is compelling and attractive. Wisdom makes knowledge winsome.

The difference here is one we are all familiar with, and likely familiar with from both perspectives. We have probably been the one wielding facts like a cudgel, and we have probably been the one beaten senseless with that same cudgel. It’s the difference between a know-it-all and a teacher; it’s the difference between the Lord Jesus and a Pharisee.

Repeatedly, Proverbs urges us to get knowledge; with equal force it pleads for us to get wisdom so that we may know how to wield that knowledge with skill and discernment, like a living and active, two-edged surgeon’s scalpel.


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