Two Kinds of Wisdom

25 Apr

It’s said, “Wisdom comes with experience.” Could be true …

Dwayne is a strong young man at the construction site and he was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He WheelbarrowMan_Croppedmade a special case of making fun of one of the older workmen, George. After several minutes, George had had as much as he was willing to take.

“OK, Dwayne, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?’ he stated thoughtfully. ‘I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.”

“You’re on, old man,” Dwayne, the braggart replied, smirking. “Let’s see what you got.”

George, the old fellow, reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to Dwayne, he said, “All right. Get in.”

One of the things I’ve learned from experience is that I am not always wise. I want to be, but I’m not. And when I’m not, there’s a good reason for it. Usually, it’s because I drank from a fool’s well, not the waters of wisdom found in the Word.

Whenever I ask women to quote Proverbs 3:5-6 with me, it’s a resounding chorus. We’ve memorized that scripture and love it:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

Analyzing that passage, we see a directive … a warning … another directive that further explains the first one, I think … and a promise. I have counseled my heart with that scripture in many circumstances. Haven’t you?

But when I ask women to quote verse seven, I get blank stares. It says,

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

This verse sounds more confrontational … a warning that somehow makes us uncomfortable. After all, how do we know whether we are being wise in our own eyes? And how does that kind of wisdom affect the warning in verse five? If we are wise in our own eyes, are we leaning on our own understanding?

Kathi Macias shed some light on the wrong kind of wisdom. In her March 20 devotional she quoted Judges 21:25 – “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” – and then Kathi reminded readers, “God is the only Author of true morality, the One who declares right from wrong, and He sets a absolute standard to which we must adhere.”

Wisdom for living, then, is seeing life from God’s perspective, including His moral standard. We must not be “wise” in our own eyes. We must fear (reverence, honor and trust) God and then – as biblical wisdom dictates, “depart from evil.” Wisdom that hears God’s truth and then refuses to obey is the “you’re only fooling yourself” sort of wisdom.

FearOfTheLord_WisdomProverbs 9:10 echoes this thought. Authors, speakers and the media spout words of “wisdom,” but we must beware of their words, because true wisdom begins with “the fear of the LORD. And without knowledge of “the Holy One,” there is no understanding. Again, the scriptures say, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Fools despise and will not heed the wisdom of God; they prefer the wisdom of the world that caters to their appetites and preferences – their own ways rather than God’s ways. The prophet Hosea warned God’s people not to trust in their own way – their own plans and strength (Hosea 10:13).

We must be careful – discerning – filtering the world’s wisdom through the Word of God. If it doesn’t align, we must reject “wisdom,” no matter how “intelligent” or “popular” the source. We must always reject ungodly counsel.

As I studied Proverbs 3:7, I asked myself, “What does being wise in my own eyes look like?”

I think we are wise in our own eyes:

  • When we rush ahead and don’t pause to pray for God’s help before we make a decision
  • When we don’t flee temptations because we think, “I can handle this.”
  • When we fail to recognize that God’s grace, not our own strength, is our enabling for victory
  • When we aren’t teachable
  • When we assume our Pastor’s message must be for “someone else.”
  • When we don’t ask trusted, wise Christian friends for advice or counsel.
  • When we care more about how people perceive us than obedience to God’s Word
  • When we’re more self-confident than God-confident

Being wise in our own eyes sounds a lot like self-sufficiency and pride, doesn’t it? We are wise in our own eyes whenever our actions (if not our words) say, “I’ve got this one, Jesus … I don’t need your help right now.” God hates such pride and arrogance (Proverbs 8:13). Wisdom comes from humility and those who are willing to take biblical advice (Proverbs 11:2; 13:10).

Wisdom is related to our worldview. Either we have a Bible-grounded, Bible-relevant worldview or we don’t.

So, where do you find your wisdom – and how does your source of wisdom affect your attitudes and behaviors?

– Dawn

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2 Responses to “Two Kinds of Wisdom”

  1. Priscilla Jensen April 26, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    Amen to ‘true wisdom begins with “the fear of the LORD!’ Godly wisdom is what I pray for for my husband daily. 🙂

    • Dawn Wilson April 26, 2013 at 4:23 am #

      And I pray for godly wisdom for my sons and their families too.

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