CRUISING DOWNTOWN IN A FERRARI
Proverbs 1:20-33, Wisdom 7, James 3:1-12
September 17, 2000 by Tad Mitsui
I had a stroll around the old Montreal last week. There were many people enjoying what seemed to be the last summer day. Cars were clogging the narrow streets inching forward their ways. I was so glad that I left my car in the Angrignon parking lot. Then I saw a red Ferrari. What a magnificent car it was! Everybody stopped to take a look at it. A young man in the driver”s seat was obviously enjoying the attention he was getting. In half an hour or so, I thought another red Farrari came around. No, it was not another Ferrari. It was the same one. He was just "cruising", I guess, showing off his two hundred thousand dollar Ferrari. He came around three times while I was there. If he wanted to be admired for his prized car, he did not do so well. He looked ridiculous. When I read today”s passage from the Book of Proverbs, I thought about that young man in a Ferrari – someone who should know better doing a stupid thing.
There is nothing wrong driving a beautiful and expensive car. I understand people who want to possess things that are beautiful and of good quality, though expensive. Cars, clothes, even pots and pans; anything can be a piece of art. When God looked at his creation and said it was good, I am sure that God appreciated its beauty as well as its usefulness. I enjoy looking at beautiful cars just as much as I enjoy looking at beautiful paintings. We should enjoy God”s creation in many ways; sight, smell, and sound as well as the benefits it gives. But some people possess beautiful things, and use them unwisely and managed to look stupid or even to harm themselves. Knowledge is one of those things that is good and valuable and makes us intelligent. But knowledge can make us unwise, too. Wisdom must be in a driver”s seat, when handling knowledge. That is what the passage from the Proverbs is telling us. "Listen, wisdom is calling out in the streets, at the city gate, and in the market-place…It is the Lord who gives you wisdom. Wisdom comes from the word of God."
You may think that knowledge always makes you wise. But the Bible says not necessarily. Today is an information age, and today”s economy is the knowledge based economy. Knowledge made Bill Gates rich. Young people are required nowadays to learn the computer and get on the "Information Highway", if they want to find a job and survive in today”s knowledge based economy. Knowledge replaced gold and diamond. Information is wealth, and knowledge is power today. You show-off what you know, just like you show-off your Ferrari in downtown.
But just like an expensive car, mere information is useless unless it becomes useful knowledge. Many people are proud of the fact that they have access to so much information and know so much. But they are silly. Mere information is something like a telephone book in your hand. It doesn”t mean you know everybody in Montreal and have many friends. Information must become your own knowledge to be any good. There is a internet site that shows how fast a piece of meat rots. Very slowly. Do you know that everyday 3 million people click on to that internet site and see how much it decomposes every hour everyday? Stupid, isn”t it? But there are people, who are proud of the fact that they have such unusual information, and make you feel stupid, if you don”t know what they know. But they don”t realize that information is rubbish until it is a useful knowledge. The Proverbs say, "Foolish people, who make fun of knowledge!" It is better to have a little knowledge and to be wise than millions of pieces of useless information.
My late father-in-law was a Canadian Air Force mechanic during the war. He was proud of his knowledge of airplanes. Every time a plane passed overhead, he said something like, "There goes DC10, 767," or whatever. Kids were mighty impressed. After he died, Muriel”s sister Lynne asked Mom how come he knew so much about planes. Mom just smiled. He was fooling them all the time. I was impressed. Dad managed to fool all those smart kids for forty years!
This story is interesting on two accounts. Men are usually the ones who like to show-off their knowledge of useless titbits, or to use things foolishly, like cruising on a Ferrari just to show-off. But women do not show off knowledge of trivia as much as men do. Muriel”s Mom just smiled at her husband”s innocent vanity. The Proverbs refers to Wisdom who cry out in the streets and in the marketplace as a woman. I find it fascinating that the Bible refers to the wisdom of God as "she". Chapter 1, verse 20 says, "Wisdom cries out, she raises her voice..At the city gate, she speaks,..etc." In fact, the word for wisdom in Greek is a female "Sophia". This not only reminds me of Muriel”s Mom, but also of my own vanity of wanting to boast the knowledge of useless trivia. Is the Bible hinting that women know something men don”t know? Do you think that”s why there are more women in the church than men? Something to think about, isn”t it?
Lastly, the Book of Proverbs says that mere knowledge without wisdom is not only foolish, but is dangerous. "Complacency of fools destroys and kills," says the Book of Proverbs. Scientific knowledge brought to us so many benefits. But don”t forget; our technology is also driving God”s creation to a cataclysmic disaster. Our highly developed technology that gave us unprecedented prosperity is causing the polar ice to melt, and driving many species of plans and animals to extinction. When the environment as we know is destroyed, we may be the next ones on the list of endangered species. But, like the Book says, fools who may possess knowledge don”t listen to wisdom.
I believe that it is about time to slow down and listen to the wisdom coming from the love story of Jesus Christ. I have nothing against loving a nice car. But for God”s sake, let us put wisdom of God in the driver”s seat and travel towards the love of God. Then, incredible human achievements will shine, and sing the hymn for the glory of God. Then, a red Ferrari may be worth the money.