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The Wise Guy in the Backseat

March 10, 2017

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." Psalm 119:97

Driving with two young children in the backseat often requires a special kind of grace. Especially when, like on this trip, I was the parent. We were driving to Grand Rapids to hear one of my favorite pastors speak, and we were seriously stuck in traffic. I desperately studied the map for an alternate route while my 3-year-old son amused himself by teasing his 18-month-old sister. Her piercing screams got louder until my already frayed nerves finally snapped. I reached behind my seat with the folded map and bonked my son on the head, yelling, “Stop doing that to your sister!”

My son, wide-eyed, looked at me from the backseat and admonished, “Daddy, it’s not be ye kind to hit people!”

Ouch.

I have an advanced degree in theology and make a living teaching others the Word of God. And yet, in that moment, it took a 3-year-old’s loose paraphrase of Ephesians 4:32, to help me catch a biblical clue. Out of the mouths of babes!

That’s exactly what the psalmist is talking about in this tiny nugget of truth from Psalm 119:97-112. Advanced degrees and knowledge-laden education or even an ordination to preach, do not, in and of themselves, make one wise. In fact, some of the smartest and most talented people in this world live and act in extremely unwise ways. Paul references people like that in Romans 1:21-22 when he says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

It’s God’s Word that makes us wise. In fact, let me be more specific—it’s knowing and applying God’s Word that makes us wise. I knew the biblical truths in my head. But in a frustrated moment, I got a solid “F” in translating God’s Word into wisdom in my life.

The beauty of God’s Word is that it is so accessible. From young children, not even yet able to read, to stellar biblical scholars, His truths offer fresh insight and perspective. In the trustworthy pages of the Bible, God actually—get this—teaches us. Instruction directly from the Author and Creator of Life! No wonder His Word “gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

That’s why the writer of this psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, committed to meditating on God’s law all day long. He knew that questions would surface every day for which he had no answer. He knew that the daily struggle to live with integrity and purpose would require countless moment-by-moment decisions for which he would need wise counsel. And so he steeped his mind and his heart in the truth of God’s Word, heartily trusting that it would be sufficient for every situation. His confidence was that immersion in the truth of the Law granted him wisdom—the real, rubber-meets-the-road kind of wisdom—beyond what could be learned in school.

And so, armed with sound biblical wisdom, a 3-year-old wise guy in the backseat of my car brought a much-needed rebuke to his “biblically educated” Dad. And, by the way, for the rest of the car trip, I was a little bit more “be ye kind.”

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • How have you seen God’s truth affecting daily decisions and actions in your life? In what areas do you need more of His wisdom and less of your own? On a scale of 1 to 5, how deeply are you immersing yourself in the truth of God’s Word?
    (1 = Wading in the kiddy pool, 5 = Scuba-diving deep in His truth)
  • What action steps could you intentionally take to help you go deeper in your study and application of God’s Word?