A website at healthline.com reports interesting information about IQ’s (intelligence quotients). A score of 116 or more is considered above average. A score of 130 or higher signals a high IQ. Membership in Mensa (the High IQ society) includes people who score in the top 2 percent, which is usually 132 or higher. But does a high IQ always guarantee you are wise? A group of Mensa members was reportedly at a Mensa convention in San Francisco. Having lunch at a café, they discovered the peppershaker contained salt and the saltshaker was full of pepper. A vigorous debate began among this group of highly intelligent people – how could they swap the contents of the bottles without spilling them, using only the materials at hand? They came up with a brilliant solution involving a napkin, a straw, and an empty saucer. They called the server over to dazzle her with their solution. They said, “We noticed the peppershaker contains salt and the saltshaker—” but the server interrupted. She grabbed both shakers and said, “Sorry about that.” In a flash she unscrewed the caps of both bottles and switched them! Kudos to that server! She reminds us big-brains don’t always mean the best brains!
There is more than one kind of wisdom. There is “horse sense” which W. C. Fields said is “the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” Horse sense is really a synonym for what we know as “common sense” (which sometimes seems to be almost extinct these days). Other kinds of knowledge and “wisdom” might be mentioned, but space allows me to mention only two. The Bible notes and distinguishes between them in a number of places, but nowhere more directly and clearly that James 3:13-18. As he discusses Christian living, James asks readers, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” (vs 13a). In the context he may be addressing people who consider themselves to be wise and expert teachers / preachers in the church (see 3:1). Whatever the case, he continues: “Let him show by his good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” James goes on to contrast two very different kinds of “wisdom” and the source of each. One kind is “earthly, sensual, demonic” (verse 14 [KJV ‘devilish’]) and allows and incites some really bad behavior and attitudes – bitter envy, boasting, lying against the truth, self-seeking, confusion, and evil things (verses 15-16). Then in stark contrast, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (verse 17). What’s really sobering about these verses is when you realize James is addressing Christians, perhaps even teachers and preachers! Equally as important and striking is to note the connection the inspired man makes between wisdom and conduct. A “genius” in the world may have a super-sized brain yet be a moral and spiritual fool. Psalm 14:1 declares, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God” – and some of the biggest-brained, most highly trained and educated people in the world still say there is no God. It seems to escape most people that after thousands of years of human history that while education, science, research, technology, etc. have in some ways made us smarter, big brains and human logic alone have failed to make us better. To be better morally and spiritually, we need “the wisdom that is from above.” We need Jesus Christ, “who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor.1:30). Following Christ will make you God’s kind of genius, regardless of your IQ.