It was the most unusual lesson Harry had ever attended. They did indeed burn sage and mallowsweet there on the classroom floor, and Firenze told them to look for certain shapes and symbols in the pungent fumes, but he seemed perfectly unconcerned that not one of them could see any of the signs he described, telling them that humans were hardly ever good at this, that it took centaurs years and years to become competent, and finished by telling them that it was foolish to put too much faith in such things anyway, because even centaurs sometimes read them wrongly. He was nothing like any human teacher Harry had ever had. His priority did not seem to be to teach them what he knew, but rather to impress upon them that nothing, not even centaurs’ knowledge, was foolproof. ~ Order of the Phoenix, pp. 603-604

If only all teachers could be like Firenze—honest that they don’t know everything, that no one does, and it is foolish to put our faith in human wisdom. Rather, if you are like me, most of your teachers acted as if they were the authority on such-and-such a matter, everything they said was eternal fact, and there was no way they could be wrong. Wouldn’t it be better to have a teacher who taught students how to think rather than to memorize a bunch of “facts” that will be outdated by the next publication?

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. ~ James 3:13-18 NLT

There are different types of wisdom and knowledge—true and false. For instance, in second grade I made a paper-mache Pluto for my science project. Guess what? Apparently I deserve an F—or my teachers do—because Pluto is not a planet. Or maybe it is, and in 15 years we’ll discover we’re wrong again. True wisdom and knowledge are that which is eternal, infallible, truth. But how do we know when we have true or false wisdom/knowledge?

I don’t know, but I think James 3 gives us some insight. True wisdom comes from God who is Love and Good. False wisdom and truth seem to come from things that are not Love or Good—selfish ambition, jealousy, boasting, lying, anti-peaceful, not gentle, unyielding, etc.

As for me, my plan is to seek after God with all my heart and ask Him for guidance, discernment, and wisdom from above. Then, hopefully, I won’t make quite as many mistakes as I would without His help.

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