In June 1744, members of the Iroquois “Six Nations” and the Lenape tribes met with early American colonial leaders to negotiate the terms of a treaty regarding land. These meetings shaped not only the growth of the colonies, but the suggestions for governmental structure offered by some of the Native Americans influenced the development of our Constitution as well.
After the treaty was signed, the Virginia government offered, as a gesture of goodwill, to take six of the young men from the tribes and educate them at one of the colonial colleges. After consideration, the Native Americans gave their answer the next day. Ben Franklin recorded the response…
For we know that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men with you would be very expensive to you. We are convinced therefore that you mean to do us good by your proposal, and we thank you heartily. But you who are wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things, and you will therefore not take it amiss if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it: several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but when they came back to us they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly; were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, or counselors; they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it; and to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them. – from The Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin
For the Native Americans, knowledge carried more weight than just understanding a concept or committing a fact to memory. Knowledge held a practical component: something meaningful should result from it. Being educated was more than passing a test while sitting at a desk. Education and wisdom came by hands-on experience and intensive practice.
In the Old Testament, one Hebrew word used for “wisdom” can be translated as “skilled living.” When God gives us his wisdom, skilled living is the desired result. It’s more than just being able to win a Bible trivia game. There must be a practical application of truth. Because of the importance of living a skillful life, we are admonished to seek this wisdom. Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7). God wants us to run after that type of true wisdom with diligence and passion: If you seek [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:4-5).
God offers to take great care of our spiritual education. He instructs us in his wisdom and transforms us into devoted followers of Christ, but we must recognize and seek his wisdom for the treasure that it is.
We will recognize that true wisdom begins with the right view of God. – Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
We will know the value of godly wisdom and seek it. – Proverbs 8:11 For wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
We will grow in our maturity as we receive wise teaching from God’s Word. – Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
We will ask God for wisdom boldly and consistently. – James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.