I really used to be smarter. Too bad you didn't know me then.
Really, I'll come across old sermon notes or study notes, or papers I did in seminary, and... well, the intellectual trajectory is not encouraging. Nostalgic, yes, but...
Let me illustrate. I've often told you that one of the things I love about BibleWorks is its ability to allow instant, limitless documentation on each and every individual verse. So if you have a thought, or you find an essay on the Intrawebs, or you find a sermon or a journal article, you just get the verse, paste, and it's there for you forever. Absolutely amazing.
So I've made notes during my dozens of Bible read-throughs in BW. The day I wrote this post, Luke 15 was part of my morning reading. Here's the note I found on Luke 15:1 in full and unedited, reflecting several readings.
First, I wrote this:
What is interesting about these parables is that Jesus puts the hearers — us — in the place of God the Father in them, asking us to reason from our own feelings to His. How would you feel if you lost a sheep? What would you do? How would you feel when you found it? And you ladies, if you lost one of your coins...? And you fathers: picture this.....Then, on a later reading, I'd written this:
Wow, was that my thought? That's deep, for me! Usually I'll credit a source, if I get it somewhere else. Guess I used to be smart! Dang!)Then yet another time, I jotted this:
Still later: no way I came up with that myself)Can you identify? I've had that experience prepping my sermons in the current series at CBC, preaching over the basic doctrines touched on in our church's Doctrinal Statement. I'll sometimes find a sermon I'd preached on the subject 10 or more years ago and think, "Hey, that's pretty good... I'll use that!"
I don't know how that sounds to you. The feeling I have when I come across those earlier-me gems is that I'm reading something someone else wrote... except that it has my name on it, and I've never been a sermon-plagiarist. So it had to be have been me. Smarter-me.
But here's the other side of that. To this "other side," younger readers will say "Whatever," but the rest of us will moan, "Yeah, no kidding." Here it is:
At the same time I look back and marvel at how intellectually bright I was, I also marvel at how stupid I could be. Decisions, priorities, the way I handled issues of various sizes... just ouch, and groan, and head-shake, and facepalm, and pray.
Am I telling the yowwens not to study hard and learn a lot of facts and information? In no way whatever. I'm just cautioning that there is a lot more to wisdom than the accumulation (and even mastery) of impeccable truths and theories. It involves that, yessir; but it is more than that.
The moral of this story?
"Wise" and "smart" just ain't synonyms. At best, the latter can lead to the former, via a Proverbial path.
In fact, it had darned well better. For everyone's sake.