It always amazes me to think of how all the greatest, the most valuable things of life, are intangible in nature: I’m speaking of such qualities as beauty (not physical beauty per se, but the beauty inherent in living and created things), wisdom, etc. If they were not so intangible, man would seek to commodify them; hoard them to himself, capitalize upon them.
And even as beauty, for example, manifests itself in physical things and beings, the physicality of it quickly passes, diminishes and doesn’t last. The beautiful flower withers, the gorgeous sunset fades, the invitingly attractive individual grows old, his or her beauty fades. I believe it’s made so, so that we focus on and our attention is drawn to the essence of the thing, or what could perhaps be termed the eternal nature of things.
Some things do, in a sense retain their beauty. The majestic mountains, for example, forever remain beautiful and majestic, but they are the exception rather than the rule. They are, in fact, meant to symbolize what is eternal and lasting. But then, even they will pass away, according to scripture.
Beauty, for example, can only be enjoyed, appreciated and reverenced for its nature, its essence, the truth of it, but never selfishly possessed, as much as we would want to. Likewise, wisdom and truth, aren’t something we can quantify or commodify. We can’t buy and sell them. They aren’t exchangeable items. Wisdom is a quality in one sense but even more it is a ‘state of being’’ of being wise. I think it’s more accurate to say of such qualities that we are ‘possessed of them’ than to say we ‘possess them.’
Such intangibles also remind me of Pilates’ question to Jesus: What is truth? –As if truth were some kind of a cut-and-dry commodity that could be categorized, analyzed, possessed, gotten to the bottom of, and figured out intellectually.
It goes to show that God certainly knows what he’s doing. Scripture says of Christ, In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3) And the following stanzas from the book of Job speak of wisdom as follows:
Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.
Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.
But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.
The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.
It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.
The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28: 1,2, 12-20 & 28)
Thank God that it’s so and that such intangibles remain beyond our grasp as far as being able to selfishly, physically possess them. And yet as we allow ourselves to be open to them, to appreciate them, to enjoy them, to be possessed of them, to honor them, they allow us to partake of the infinite, the timeless, and the immortal.