“In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is acquired.
In pursuit of wisdom,
every day something is dropped.” — Lao Tzu
We’re human. We grow. It begins the moment we’re conceived. We grow through childhood, stretching our limbs and marking the progress in pencil upon our doorposts. Through puberty we grow out of adolescence and physically change into adults. Through our middle years we continue to grow, growing out of our prime to become a bit softer and a bit slower. Then, in our final years, we simply grow old, eventually checking out of this life the same way we checked into this life, often unable to take care of ourselves.
Throughout all these stages of life, we acquire knowledge. As infants, we learn quickly that a nice fit of loud crying will bring a comforting meal. In childhood we learn to follow the rules if we want to fit in, or stay out of trouble. Through puberty, we learn how difficult it is to go our own way, and how to push the rules until they bend, or sometimes even break. As adults we acquire the knowledge of how to fit in to our surroundings, to play the game of life so we can earn our own way. Then, in old age, we have acquired the knowledge, often too late, that we really haven’t acquired what we really need, wisdom.
Knowledge gives us information about life, and that’s important. But wisdom gives meaning to life. To have knowledge is to fill the drinking glass of life. To have wisdom is to know what to pour into the glass of life. Through knowledge we acquire many things, but through wisdom we learn what to drop. Knowledge can fill our bank accounts, get us a large home, a fine car to drive, some baubles for our fingers and wrists, and some nice vacations. But wisdom teaches us how to live without feeling those things are necessities.
Christ spoke of both knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the way we learn how the world works. Wisdom is knowing that’s not how the world is supposed to work. Wisdom teaches that every day something needs to be dropped from our lives. What needs to be dropped from yours?