This has been the summer of the big bicycle find in Toronto. Every day a couple of weeks ago, the collection of handlebars, spokes, and frames multiplied as police raids uncovered new caches of stolen bikes. Last count was 2,800 bikes, mostly found in overstuffed garages all over the city.
The good news is that many Torontonians have flocked to police warehouses and have been reunited with their missing bikes.
Petty theft in big cities is a substantial thorn in the side of law enforcement agencies. One might say that the police, in tackling too frequent cases of theft, need "the wisdom of Solomon." Many might not realize that this well-worn phrase has a biblical basis. Solomon was the king of Israel and was well known for his ability to find answers to hard questions.
One of the most famous theft cases he solved was an attempted baby theft. Two women were brought before him, both claiming to be the mother of the same child. After some consideration, Solomon proposed a rather horrific solution. He requested a sword to cut the child in two. Solomon's suggestion, perhaps motivated by his knowledge of the qualities of motherhood, was terrifying to one of the women. She quickly chose to give up the baby rather than have him killed, revealing her identity as the real mother. This, and many such solutions, confirmed for Solomon's people "that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment" (I Kings 3:28).
This same judgment is ours to use in situations both big and small. One morning a schoolteacher stood on an empty Toronto playground with two young boys, one claiming that the other had just stolen his baseball cap. This was not the first cap to disappear. In fact, so many caps had gone missing that the teachers had begun to check the students' knapsacks at dismissal.
The first boy angrily shouted that this classmate had taken the cap from his head and disappeared into the crowd. The other innocently declared that he had not touched the hat and willingly opened his empty knapsack. The early morning bell had rung, and the three stood alone on a large flat treeless field of well-trodden grass and pavement. No place to hide or misplace a cap.
It was the adage mentioned earlier, the need for "the wisdom of Solomon," that the teacher contemplated. At first the expression seemed just a passing thought, but then she realized that "the wisdom of God … to do judgment" was exactly what she needed. The teacher prayed silently, acknowledging the ever-presence of God, affirming His children's innate goodness, and expecting a decisive answer to the problem at hand.
As the boys walked quietly beside her, the words came. She turned to one boy and said simply, "Go and get the cap." He looked up at her, stunned and questioning. She repeated her request again in a calm, firm voice. He lit out across the field to an outside portable classroom, climbed underneath, and brought out the cap.
Similar to the bike theft in this same city, there was an entire cache of caps to be returned to the boy's schoolmates. For weeks, he had been stealing hats during school hours, concealing them in this hidden spot, and then returning at dinnertime to retrieve them.
This discovery was a wonderful benefit to the school because the stealing stopped. But the greater gain was to the boy, because he learned a lesson, and this unprincipled activity was eliminated from his behavior at school.
All of us, when faced with the need for answers to perplexing problems, can turn, as Solomon did, to God's omniscient wisdom, and find practical answers.
If any of you lack wisdom,
let him ask of God,
that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him. James 1:5