By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
We all agree that education is the key to much success. We believe in children receiving a solid academic foundation in order to be eligible for advanced professional training. We may send them abroad to gain more experience and exposure even as we desire their return to help build our nation. We challenge them to aim for academic excellence or to use their hands if they are better suited to this type of work. We want to see them enjoy a comfortable standard of living able to support themselves and be generous to those who are struggling.
We know that there are those who are street-smart, able to survive in dangerous situations, and knowledgeable in the ways of the world. We recognise that some have had to fight against all odds to have even limited success, and we understand that there are those who feel justified in resorting to what is considered illegal and immoral in order to enjoy their preferred lifestyle, whether we agree or not.
Today we are focusing on what it means to be "spirit-smart". Those who are unlettered or less educated may be so spiritually advanced that they are wise beyond their years, while others may be classified as "educated fools" when it comes to the decisions that they make.
1. Recognition of one's current situation
Proverbs 9:6 (NIV) is addressed to the "simple" or those "without sense": "Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight." Here "simple" has also been translated as immaturity. If we are honest with ourselves, we may have to admit that there are many occasions when we fall into the category of the immature. We need to be shown how to live and walk in wisdom.
2. Making the effort to live a godly life
Psalm 34:9-14 (NIV) speaks of "fear' or reverence for the Lord which motivates us to live a godly life: "Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." How do we measure up to the psalmist's standards?
3. Seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit
This admonition is repeated in St Paul's letter, Ephesians 5:15-20: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Here worship keeps us connected to God by the presence of God's Holy Spirit within us.
4. Being sustained by the Eucharist
In John 6:51-57 (NIV) we read these words that Jesus spoke: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world...Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me."
This is the difference between wisdom and academic knowledge. Wisdom teaches about life in order to build character, deepen faith and strengthen our relationship with God. Our prayer or collect for Sunday past (the 13th Sunday after Pentecost) highlights this journey to spiritual maturity and wisdom: "Almighty God you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life." (BCP)