Secular Wisdom

is of limited use.

Genesis 13:10-18 (ESV)

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Lot was smart to look for a place that’s well watered everywhere. Every place has plenty of sunshine, air and dirt. Water is what makes the difference. That’s why virtually every city in the world is near a source of water.

But Lot ignored a huge warning sign. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD. He moved to a city that had plenty of water, but it was no place to try and raise a family. Lot should have avoided that place like the plague.

As we shall see this turns into a nightmare – a nightmare that could have been avoided. Lot’s decision to move there was stupid on multiple levels. He ignored some major red flags.

This illustrates an amusing principle about wisdom. The Bible is filled with examples of how spiritual wisdom trumps secular wisdom. Secular wisdom is useful, but to a limited extent.

But note – secular stupidity is very important. There are a few counter-examples, but if something looks really dumb, it probably is really dumb.

Secular wisdom isn’t worth all that much attention, but secular stupidity is.


This greatly simplifies how we seek God’s will. Lots of things can be ruled out as obviously wrong or stupid. If God wants you to do something dangerous, He’ll make it very clear, and you would be justified in asking for some pretty spectacular confirming signs.

So, don’t ignore your intuition about what God wants you to do.

In asking for His guidance, it’s normal to be choosing between a few alternatives that have all already passed your sniff test.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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