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A Word to the Wise

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Blog, Food for Thought, Quotes | 0 comments

Have you ever wondered why we refer to an owl as being wise? I certainly never have…until I was preparing my recent Bible Study lesson on Wisdom, got sidetracked and learned a few things I never knew about these nocturnal creatures. (If you want to see some incredible pictures of owls, check out Scott Martin’s gallery at http:// I learned that there are 206 different species of owls: 16 barn owls and 190 true owls, and they can weigh anywhere from one pound to 10 pounds.

Only the Great Horned Owl preys on skunks—I had to stop and think, How wise is that? And yet, they can do it because owls have a poor sense of smell. By eating the skunk they smell like skunk, the tree they live in smells like skunk, and even their baby will smell like skunk. This repels other animals from bothering them! Okay, now that’s wise!

Owls are unable to move their eyes within their sockets to a great extent, which means they must turn their entire head to see in a different direction. Depending on the species, their eyes may account for one to five percent of their body weight, enormous compared to the size of their bodies. Perhaps because they look wise with such big eyes, owls often appear as noble and wise characters in many children’s stories, including Winnie the Pooh.

Before we leave this little nature lesson and get back on the wisdom track, let me conclude with a poem by Edward H. Richards:

A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard;

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?

I can see your smile!

Plato once said, Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Samuel Langhorne Clemens—better known by his pen name, Mark Twain—had his opinion on how we can perfect wisdom: The perfection of wisdom and the end of true philosophy is to proportion our wants to our possessions, our ambitions to our capacities. [Then] we will be a happy and virtuous [morally justified, clean-living] people.

I found both quotes thought provoking and right on mark; however, I always turn to the Scriptures for the final say. Not being the least bit surprised, I discovered a multitude of lessons that teach us about wisdom, a word we so casually associate with a bird and seem to practise it too little ourselves.

Wise people are not just born wise, they…

  • Draw on God for wisdom – James 1:5
  • Keep company with like-minded believers – Proverbs 5:21
  • Exercise self-control – Proverbs 29:11
  • Admit mistakes and learn from them – Proverbs 24:16
  • Take instruction humbly and welcome good advice – Proverbs 19:20
  • Handle rejection and failure with grace – Proverbs 15:12
  • Are patient – Psalm 27:14; Proverbs 15:1
  • Know priorities – Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:2
  • Don’t live beyond their means – Proverbs 11:28
  • Continually draw close to God – Philippians 3:10a
  • Listen, think, and then speak with discernment – Proverbs 12:18

Our reward: As we exercise wisdom and good judgment, we develop the ability to discern good from evil.

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you (Proverbs 2:6,10-11).


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