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Reflections: Money without wisdom

It’s amazing how often my Bible reading schedule takes me to a scripture passage that seems particularly appropriate, whether for a challenge I’m facing, encouraging a friend in a rough time, or insight into current events. In the middle of concerning news about anti-Israel/pro-Hamas demonstrations on several U.S. college campuses, I landed on this gem in Proverbs:


“Why should the fool have money in his hand with no intention of buying wisdom?” (17:16, BSB) My mind went right to these students, many at prestigious Ivy League universities, who were camping on the lawns, caught up in a cultural and media storm, rather than attending class where they could be preparing for a career.  


I found similar wording in different Bible translations: “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?” (KJV) 


The NIV really nails it: “Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?”


PragerU’s “Man on the Street” interviewed some students to ask why they were demonstrating and what they believed in. Not one of those interviewed could articulate why they were “protesting” or what they considered to be the problem. Some of these colleges were originally founded for the purpose of training Christian leaders; many of the original charters include the importance of faith in public life. Yet not one student, when asked, referred to their faith as a basis for their actions; rather, they criticized their Jewish colleagues or resorted to vague platitudes like “violence is wrong.”


And why are taxpayers being asked to pay off educational loans for these students or for recent graduates who may or may not actually be employed in the field they supposedly studied? Why are these students demonstrating, instead of applying themselves to their studies? I have no problem with financial incentives to help military veterans reintegrate into civilian careers, teachers who serve in challenging inner-city schools, things like that, but why free money for students who can’t even express their beliefs or their plans?


The writer of Proverbs certainly asked a good question. Only through relationship with God and seeking Him can we determine purpose for our lives. While there’s nothing wrong with a good foundational education to help develop well-rounded individuals, spending thousands of dollars without a plan in mind seems foolish—or greedy, if other people are paying for it.


In the book of Acts, a man named Simon saw the apostles praying for people who then received the Holy Spirit with the gift of speaking in other languages. He offered money to the apostles for the ability to pray like that, but they quickly set him straight. Was he ready to share the gospel regardless of the cost? Was his motive to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ? Or did it just look like a cool skill that might draw a crowd?


Similarly, are these college students ready to determine a career path, study to achieve it, and then work hard to contribute to their communities and the economy? Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy wisdom. That’s only available by grounding oneself in God’s Word and following His will for our lives.

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