“A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.”
How’s it going as you balance your way through life these days? Are you happy AND wise? Do you feel a sense of balance or rather a slight car-sick nausea because something is out of whack? There are two essential dimensions to walking on the right path, wisdom and love. Without both we tip over too much.
I often leave meetings with an ache in my heart. I just had to say something very sensible. I couldn’t resist the temptation and just sit there in silence. The ache that came later was because my heart just wasn’t in it. There were other feelings like anger, frustration, or fear but not the right one that should have added balance to my cleverness and helped me be more wise.
Now that I’m in the second half of my life I’ve discovered why this balance is so important. People become jaded with all the wisdom that experience teaches and along the way can lose too much of their heart. It’s an awful feeling to keep realizing you’ve become THAT coot. The wonder has leaked out. You’re not offering any real wisdom to those around you, just one long cynical commentary. Wisdom must have heart (passion, empathy, grace) in order to be of any use, to yourself or others.
Eugene Peterson’s Message translation helps to show how real wisdom and love are intertwined in living out (practice makes perfect) our faith in community:
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. James 3:17-18
Feelings must have their balance as well, especially those that reflect our deepest beliefs. Without that key ingredient of “sense” people sometimes sound half-baked when they talk about a religious faith that’s mostly feelings but faith only up to your ankles.
When was the last time you sat down and thought about how someone else must be feeling. With all the social media, who has time to talk things out, to listen, to understand? Wisdom leads you to slow down, shut down and hear things. Feelings get hurt, they swell with pride, they become so fragile. Without the anchor of “sense” they can carry you off to places that you never intended to go.
Wisdom and love travel together on the same path toward heaven. If your great ideas are causing you to say things that are abrasive, egotistical, and pessimistic – just keep your big mouth shut (I’m talking to myself!). If your love for others is leading you down the road of bad decisions and hurt feelings then it’s time to grow up. The love of God is deep, mature and steady. It is eternal. It’s purpose isn’t to make you and I feel good for today. God’s love is here to transform us starting now and for eternity. That transformation only works when we are putting it into practice (maturity takes time) and pouring it out (it’s not about you).
Be wise and remember how God is transforming you into his image so that you can demonstrate his heart to someone else.
“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke