Locations & Times

Wisdom is Better Than Rubies

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” Just realizing that you are broken is a sure sign of wisdom as only the arrogant deny their own brokenness.

by Donny Abbott on May 09, 2022

On May 12, 2015, in Geneva, Switzerland, a groundbreaking event occurred at Sotheby’s auction house. On that day an anonymous buyer was bidding on lot 502. Within seven minutes this lot would become the most expensive ruby ever sold. The twenty-five-carat Sunrise Ruby was mined in the Mogok mines of Myanmar. According to the Swiss Gemological Institute this particular ruby, pigeon blood in color, was “a unique treasure of nature" and praised for its "well-proportioned cut, highly attractive color and fine purity.” Initial estimates were that it would sell between twelve and eighteen million dollars. The anonymous buyer's final bid ended up being over thirty million.

As valuable as rubies are, the Bible tells us that wisdom is far better and more valuable.

“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”  Proverbs 8:11

No earthly treasure can compare to wisdom because nothing else offers the same protections, benefits, and blessings that wisdom does.

The Sunrise Ruby, at one point, was shaped and formed in rock with heat and pressure over a vast period of time. In order for it to be found, somebody had to search for it. Finding any ruby requires digging through rocks and dirt. All of this digging requires sweat and a great deal of time. The great pastor, Charles Spurgeon noted the effort that man puts into digging for treasure and where the treasure of wisdom is found by stating:

"That, though men should explore the deep places of the earth with all the diligence of miners seeking gold and silver, though they should exert all their mental force, as miners use all their muscular vigor, and though they should employ all the machinery within their reach, as men do who pierce through the rocks in search of precious treasure yet it is not within the range of human labor and skill to attain unto wisdom. Wisdom can only be found by another and a higher method; it must come to us by revelation from God, for we cannot find it by our own efforts."

If you’re like me, you probably know that wisdom is one of those things that you never have enough of in your life. Wisdom has always been a bit of a hard thing for me to get my head around; an elusive and abstract character trait that you attain with years of knowledge and experience. While that may be partially true, we know there are many really smart people in the world; people who have knowledge but who are not necessarily wise. This leads me to believe that wisdom is more about the appropriate use of that knowledge.

Of course, it all begins with what the writer of Job states by adding:

“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom.” Job 28:28

This “Fear of the Lord” is a real fear, but not in the sense of cowering and being afraid. Instead, it’s closer to being in awe and having reverence for God and for His Word. Having a healthy fear of the Lord honors God as He truly is—the holy, just, all-powerful, all-knowing creator of all.

One of my favorite pastors, Dr. Charles Stanley, provides us with a very practical definition of wisdom. He says:

“Wisdom is seeing things from God’s viewpoint and responding to His viewpoint according to the Holy Word of God.”

The scripture we hold in our hands is the wisdom of God. So, if we want to know more about wisdom, if we want to know more about God, then we have to read the scriptures. And as we read, we will begin to see things from God’s viewpoint. And as we see things from God’s viewpoint, we can use any wisdom we have to help others.

But knowing how to do that can be tricky as illustrated with this anecdote.

There was a man who feared that his wife wasn’t hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family doctor to discuss the problem. The doctor told him there is a simple informal test the husband could perform to give the doctor a better idea about her hearing loss.

“Here’s what you do,” the doctor said, “stand about forty feet away from her, and in a normal conversational voice see if she hears you. If she doesn’t, go to thirty feet, then twenty feet, and so on until you get a response.”

That evening, the wife was in the kitchen cooking dinner and he was in the den. He said to himself, “I’m about forty feet away, let’s see what happens.” So, in a normal voice he asked, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Got no response.

The husband moves closer to the kitchen, about thirty feet from his wife and repeats, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Still no response.

Next, he moves into the dining room where he was about twenty feet from his wife and asked, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Again, no response.

So, he walked up to the refrigerator, about ten feet away. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” No response.

So, he walks right up behind her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” 

“Ralph, for the fifth time I said we’re having chicken!”

Unlike Ralph, one of the first indicators of a wise person is that they are a good listener. Wise people hear other people’s stories before sharing theirs. They tend to think and process before they speak. And when they finally do speak the words, they are rich and meaningful. Another indicator of a wisdom-filled person is that they have a posture of humility. There is a quote that I recently came across that says;

“Out of your brokenness, you are best able to serve broken people.”

Just realizing that you are broken is a sure sign of wisdom as only the arrogant deny their own brokenness. By being vulnerable and sharing your own shortcomings, you are presenting a posture that you may not have it all together, yet you are still able to enter your own story and the stories of others with humility. 

In a world that seems to have gone mad at times, quality wisdom is a rare gem, indeed. More rare, even than the Sunrise Ruby.

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