King Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 9:13-15, This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: 14 There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. 15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.
In a commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:15, Martin Luther cites the story of Themistocles, the soldier and statesman who commanded the Athenian squadron. Through his strategy, he won the Battle of Salamis, drove the Persian army from Greek soil, and saved his city. A few years later, he fell out of favor, was ostracized by his countrymen, and was banished from Athens. So, Luther concludes, “Themistocles did much good for his city, but received much ingratitude.”
Let’s continue in Ecclesiastes 9:16-18 Then I said:
“Wisdom is better than strength.
Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised,
And his words are not heard.
17 Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard
Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war;
But one sinner destroys much good.”
The crowd, for some reason, seems to ignore or quickly forget the good that the poor and humble man accomplishes through his wisdom. People, in general, remember the last thing you do—good or bad. However, it seems no one ever forgets the bad. No matter. “Wisdom is [still] better than strength.” (v.16) It’s better to be a quiet, honest wise person who, though forgotten, leaves much good behind, than an arrogant, loud fool who, though many applaud him, destroys much good. (v 18) “But one sinner destroys much good.”
What matters in the end is not the recognition and gratitude we receive for the work we’ve done, but the souls of those people in whom we’ve sown the seeds of righteousness. Would we rather be remembered or have a life strengthened by wisdom (God’s wisdom).
The recognition we want is found in the voice of our Lord. Matthew 25:20-21, “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”
In this parable it is not the number of talents we have been given, but our faithfulness to use these talents for God’s glory. The increase is to Him and not to us.
Who have you influenced through your wise and godly wisdom?
I’ve found with sharing wisdom, most of the time 2 things happen. It goes unheard or they do not remember where they heard it. If my goal for sharing wisdom to others is fame, then I have and will fail. But, if my only goal when sharing the wisdom God gives me is to be obedient and to see that God receives the glory—then I will always be successful. I don’t have to keep track, God has got the account and the glory.
I am closing with yet another poem—
Help me to walk so close to Thee
That those who know me best can see
I live as godly as I pray,
As Christ is real from day to day. –Ryberg