The Bible says, “For freedom Christ has set us free,” and 2012 was a year in which God set me free from an area of covetousness in my life. It was a quite remarkable deliverance from a lifelong weakness. So remarkable, in fact, that when I tried to arouse that old sense of covetousness on the subject again, to see if I could do it, I was interested to see that it no longer had any hold on me.
Today another bondage fell away, and here is how it happened. Yesterday I was sitting around the table with a few people, and I found I couldn’t keep up with the pace of conversation. Their minds were lithe and their cultural references numerous, and they were simply more clever than I at social banter. I was anxious because I felt inferior and left out.
This morning when I awoke, the incident came back to mind, but I noticed that the power of anxiety was broken. I suddenly saw cleverness as something not very important, and even as something that can be empty. It was a very freeing feeling. I felt certain that the next time I am in a room of clever people, I will be content to simply listen and appreciate their wit and knowledge without being threatened by it. I will be able to “be quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
The Lord has given us each a different mind, and it is just the mind He wanted to give us for His glory. Those who are quick-witted He can use in one way, those who are more methodical in another way, and those with sluggish minds in yet another. Let us aim for knowledge of Him and for love rather than cleverness, and we shall do fine.
In fact, hasn’t the desire for intellectual cleverness been more of a stumbling block for the Church than anything else? Do not our institutions of higher learning tend to covet the friendship of the secular institutions of higher learning? Is this not what happened to old Harvard and Yale and Princeton?
Proverbs says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” In the same way, I think, cleverness is deceitful and prideful intellect is vain, but a Christian who fears the Lord is to be praised.