Who needs wisdom when you have wealth?”
I can almost hear the average Nigerian youth speaking. It is easy to be disillusioned when you are hungry. Who can blame you? Desperate times do not always call for desperate measures. Sometimes you have to sit and look at the situation carefully before acting. Now back to the issue at hand. If you have to choose between wealth and wisdom, which would you go for? Let me tell a story before you give me your answer:
A rich young man came to Jesus and asked a very curious question, “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It is curious that he would be asking for something from a poor itinerant preacher like Christ. To be rich implies that you have very little need of others. But here he was asking for what to do in order to live. He probably has realised something that most rich people find hard to admit to themselves. He realised that he was empty. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17).
It is interesting that he said “inherit”. An inheritance is not a right. It is a gift, a privilege, something someone else has worked for. Jesus, by his life, death and resurrection, gained eternal life for everyone who believes in Him (cf. Jn 3:16,17). The rich young man sought something that money cannot buy. Jesus tells Him that the only way to earn eternal life is to lay down the false security he clung so tightly to. Jesus is not saying that wealth is evil. He is pointing out that if your gifts are only used for your selfish gains, then it is useless. True wealth seeks to make others better. Others must share in the gifts that God has given you (cf. James 1:17). Wisdom helps you realise this fact. To possess wisdom is to have true wealth. And true wealth is that which builds others in the community. In using your gifts to make others better, you receive the gifts of eternal life. In fact, to have wisdom is to have everything.
It takes wisdom to see Christ as the truth and to follow Him. Wisdom alone opens our eyes to our need for God and the gift of eternal life. King Solomon who is famed as the richest man in the Scriptures had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask God for anything he wanted. But he humbly asked for “wisdom…a wise heart that is able to distinguish good and evil” (1Kg 33:4-15). Wealth and the beauty of life is nothing compared to wisdom. When we seek the world and all the pleasures it afford for their own sake, we are soon exhausted and left with a bitter aftertaste in our mouths. How many times have you longed for the latest phone, dress or car only to receive it? How did it make you feel? Did it give you the joy you expected? Maybe it did but not for long. Does that tell you something about the world and created things? There is nothing in this created world that can give you happiness.
Now back to the question: The question itself is misleading. It is not the case of either-or. Wealth is God’s gift to some for the good of all. They must seek to better the lives of others by it.