If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know what a wonderful source of love and companionship they can be. Most of the dogs I’ve owned, however, could not be trusted off leash in community situations. We did have the honor of enjoying a big yellow Lab in our family for 14 years and Ollie was one of those dogs that could be relied on to behave (tennis balls and squirrels notwithstanding). Our current dog; Sadie, is sweet and gentle but sadly has earned a short leash existence. It is a beautiful thing to see a dog that can operate without the need for constant supervision… a dog who can be counted on to do exactly what the master has trained it to do and not wander off to do whatever those other, unwise dogs, might do. Dusty has mentioned their dog Hammy in this context. If I recall correctly, Hammy lost many an opportunity to do enjoyable things with the family because he just could not be trusted to be obedient.
An analogy can be made to our human experience. As we acquire knowledge and learn to apply what we’ve learned it can look a lot like ‘Wisdom’. But what does it look like when apply our hard earned wisdom? I believe it looks a lot like ‘Obedience’. Knowledge is to wisdom as wisdom is to obedience.
Wisdom is the application of knowledge
Obedience is the application of wisdom.
I heard this phrase a decade or so ago and it has stayed in that little corner of my brain reserved for the profound. I first understood that this quote was attributed to Solomon but find that this is not included among Solomon’s writings in the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or the Song of Solomon. In any case, as I grow older, it is becoming increasingly clear that this progression from knowledge to wisdom and then on to obedience is vital in our journey to understand and carry out God’s will in our lives.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
The word obedience often carries a negative connotation as it is often perceived as conflicting with our independence or free will. Mandated obedience is not what I am talking about here. If someone tells us that we have to do this or can’t do that, it just makes (many of) us want to do the opposite. We can certainly learn about obedience through the consequences mandated by the mortal authorities in our lives. However, wouldn’t it be great if we could move beyond the need for negative consequences toward the kind of obedience that occurs naturally through wisdom: Obedience that springs forth from our hearts because we have wisdom enough to understand that doing God’s will enlarges our ability to be independent and gives focus to our free choice.
God does not operate by leashing us until we prove we can be trusted. God instead provides us with opportunity, every moment, to be a New Creation… to apply our wisdom as a new being obedient by nature because we trust God enough to let go of our old selves as he refines our knowledge into wisdom and our wisdom into obedience.
Thank you Lord for the gift of free will that I may choose to obey your teachings. Please help me understand Your vision for my life and provide the power to carry out Your will through beautiful obedience. Amen.
About the Author
Joseph Scheyer was born in Pendleton, Oregon. He attended the University of Oregon from which he graduated in 1979. He then served as a medic in the US Air Force.
Joseph has been married to the same woman for 38 years and they have four awesome children. He has enjoyed careers in forestry, education and software and currently is a substitute teacher and loving it! Joseph gives his time working with our kids’ ministry and helps out in Sunday worship by running the video screen when asked.