Wisdom vs. knowledge

Recently I was reading an article in which the writer used the terms “wisdom” and “knowledge” interchangeably, and thus, incorrectly. Knowledge is what we gain specifically through study and experience. There is no virtue component to knowledge. Virtue (or vice) can be expressed, however, in how you choose to employ that knowledge. Simply possessing knowledge doesn’t prevent one from acting immorally or in one’s own limited interests. That’s why we miss the mark if we suggest “education” is the sole answer to our current social ills.

Wisdom is very different. The person who possesses wisdom understands the right thing to do in a given situation, how to do it, and when to act. There is a virtue component tied wisdom that is absent with knowledge. The person who possesses wisdom acts according to truth so their actions are morally good.

Finally, the Christian understands wisdom is a grace given by God. Therefore, no amount of study or experience will help someone acquire it. Sometimes we struggle to understand why our leaders seem to make poor choices, or lack common sense, when they appear to have so much knowledge. I would argue it’s not knowledge that’s lacking but rather the virtue of wisdom.

Kevin Ritter



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