Many centuries ago, a story was told of a man who rented a flat above the only bakery in town. He would rise early from bed, do the things that prepared him for that day and then go to the front window and just sit, enjoying the beauty and fragerance of fresh baking bread.
The owner of the building saw him sitting there one day, smiling and enjoying the added blessing the aroma the fresh bread offered. He felt that this added pleasure and benefit would justify him raising the rent. The renter objected and the whole affair was taken to court.
The Judge, a wise old man, listened and recorded his notes as each man presented his case. He ordered the owner of the apartment to bring 10 golden coins and both were remanded to return the following day. News spread rapidly and the next morning there was a goodly crowd in the gallery.
The Judge appeared in his robes and when seated ask for the golden coins. The defendant produced them and set them before the judge. He took the coins and little by little let them fall from one hand to the other. Then he rendered his judgment. The price should remain the same for the flat.
The owner objected and demanded an explanation. “How could the falling coins pay for him sitting in the window and smelling the sweet smell of baking bread?”
The Judge smiled and said, “The tinkle of falling coins pays for the smell of baking bread!!”
James writes, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you. Let him show out of a good conversation (way of living), his works with meekness and wisdom . . . But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated full of mercy and good fruit, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:13-17).
Years ago, a good friend of mine was charged with first degree murder. His wife had been shot dead in her office. Everyone in the small Georgia town knew about the life his wife was living. She would often be seen in the local restaurant holding the arms of different men and brazenly showing strong affection for them.
My friend asked me if I would be a character witness for him. Without hesitation I said, “Yes”. Here was a man of sterling character, caught in the trap of a marriage of a beautiful woman who shamed him publicly day by day.
The trial was held in superior court of that county. Being a witness I was not allowed to listen to any part of the trial. Finally, my name was called and I was sworn in. The state’s attorney was a young whippersnapper and this was the big case for his resumé. He rose, resting his hands on the back of the leather chair, imitating one of the great prosecuting attorney of days gone by. After establishing my identify and the fact that I was a close friend of the defendant, he ask me the following question. “Mr. Exum, have you ever seen or known of a good man who did an evil deed?” I answered in a clear voice, “No sir”. He pressed the question again. Mr. Exum, are you telling the court that you have never known a good man who did an evil deed?” I replied, “That’s correct, I have never known a good man who did an evil deed!”.
He stood by me for a long moment, scratching the stubble of a small beard, and finally said, “That’s all, you’re dismissed!”
If I had said “yes” to his question, he would have dismissed me without another word. I would have become a witness against my loyal friend. He would not ask me to explain for he was afraid of my answer. I was prepared to say, “The good master said, “A good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:17-20).
At the end of the one day trial, the jury returned the verdict of “Not Guilty”!
The young king Solomon asked God for two things – wisdom and an understanding heart. He did not ask for riches (I Kings 3). When the queen of Sheba came and witnessed the honor and glory and riches of King Solomon, she said, “The half has never yet been told” (I Kings 10).
Two prostitutes gave birth to sons, just three days apart. One of the sons died, and during the night, the mother took the dead son and replaced him with the living one. Now both women are claiming the living son, and arguing their case before Solomon. The King requested a sword. His ruling was to cut the living child in half and give half to each of the mothers. “The woman, whose son was alive was filled with compassion and said to the King, “Please, my Lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him”. But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” Then the King gave his ruling. Give the baby to the first women. Do not kill him; for she is his real mother” (I Kings 3:26-28).
The beauty of Wisdom is a virtue, given by God.