"What makes a man free?" When the slave-philosopher Epictetus was asked this question, his answer was, "Knowing how to live." Ah! But there is the problem. How shall a man know how to live?
For the ancient Greeks, the answer was wisdom (sophia - soh FEE ah). Wisdom was practical knowledge that comes with experience; it was knowing about life and how to do things.
They said, "The wise man is not the man who knows many things, but the man who knows what is useful." Wisdom was the understanding of life and the understanding of self.
But how shall a man get such wisdom? The "love of wisdom," which they called philosophia, led the philosophers to make widely divergent pronouncements about what was truly wise. They all agreed that wisdom was essential to happiness, but who was really an authority on wisdom?
Down deep, most of them knew their inadequacy. Socrates even decided he was wiser than other men because, as he said, "I neither know nor think that I know."
So is wisdom - and freedom and happiness - an impossible quest? Not at all. The LORD is the source of widsom (Prov 8:23; James 3:17) and He will gladly share it with men (Prov 2:6; James 1:5). That is why people who are seeking for answers to life's problems need Christian counselors to turn to. Scripture says, "Wisdom is found in those who take advice" (Prov 13:10), but the ones giving that advice had better be in touch with the all-wise God!
The wisdom of the world is mere foolishness in God's eyes (1 Cor 3:19). In the end, the world's answers to life's problems will only bring disappointment.
Are there people seeking true wisdom, and the happy freedom that comes from living life well? Let them learn to walk with Jesus, "in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden" (Col 2:3). Then they will be wise and free.