Wise Enough To Know I’m Not Wise

Today was an interesting day with a very fascinating sermon about wisdom in which the audience was asked to rate themselves in terms of wisdom in various aspects of life, including “Fear of God,” “Control of Tongue,” and related concerns. I thought that I did well on seeking counsel, and at least moderately well on accepting counsel, although I gave myself lower marks on control of tongue. Sometimes the first elements of wisdom is the awareness that one is not very wise. That is, after all, why the wise seek counsel, because they recognize they are not wise in all areas of life, or able to see enough or recognize enough or know enough to live life without the assistance and encouragement of others. Paradoxically, wisdom comes with an awareness of the sorts of foolishness that one is prone to, and acting in order to counteract or address those vulnerabilities.

There are areas of life where I know I lack a great deal of wisdom. This self-knowledge has not always come easily, but it has resulted from a variety of situations. This has included the painful reflection that results from recognizing suboptimal patterns of behavior, reflection on the repercussions of my own personal and family history, as well as the shock of circumstances and outside events. I don’t feel it necessary to explain in detail the areas of my life where I do not consider myself to be particularly wise here, as I have done so often enough that the wise reader will have some understanding of those areas already. The specific details are not particularly important, either. What is more important is that I have sought counsel (whether through reading, or more notably through discussion with people more wise and seasoned and successful in those areas than I am) rather frequently and consistently in the course of my life. I have also found that I have been thought of as wise enough to give counsel, which I always find more than a little frightening.

The Bible makes it pretty clear that wisdom is given to those who already have some wisdom to begin with [1]. Having a little bit of wisdom leads one to recognize that one is lacking, and makes one want more of it, from wherever it can be found. It can be found through an observation of one’s life and behavior, from reading the sayings of the wise (or the Word of God), and from seeking the counsel and instruction of those who are wise. Some aspects of wisdom are humbling, avoiding the excesses of arrogance. On the other hand, some aspects of wisdom lead one to become more involved in the outside world [2] by recognizing what is lacking in the world and seeing where one’s own wisdom is needed and missing in life, which leads one to be more involved and more active in the life of other people. Such wisdom may not always be very straightforward to experience, but the wisdom that we are given or that we seek is not for ourselves alone, but for others as well. If we are wise enough to know we aren’t wise, at least we can seek to be around enough wise people that we can help make at least our small corners of the world a place that reflects the wisdom we have been given from above.

[1] See, for example:

Luke 8:18: Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

2 Corinthians 1:7-12: “On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king—wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/on-the-wisdom-of-victor-vroom/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/seven-things-i-learned-from-the-wisdom-of-agur/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have-where-you-are/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Wise Enough To Know I’m Not Wise

  1. Thank you for adding the excerpt regarding Solomon’s request of God. His prayer was answered in abundance, for Solomon did recognize his need–even at the tender age of 20–of wisdom in order to rule with uprightness. But, unfortunately, he did not recognize his need to rely on the Godly application of this wisdom, for he chose to use it in the pursuit of everything physical under the sun. As a result, he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes with regret, old before his time, for he had wasted his limited years on earth “chasing the wind.” He was now handing the reigns of a vast kingdom to the son of a pagan woman for whom he had built a temple of idol worship; someone he hadn’t groomed for the responsibilities–and his nights were sleepless with worry. This book is one of the saddest in the Bible. We can see the seeds of flawed thinking from the very beginning, where the scriptures record that his home was grander than God’s temple and took twice the time to build. God warned Israel not to trade with foreigners, but his wives–from the first (Egyptian)–to the rest of them (700 plus 300 concubines) were embraced to forge trade relationships and strengthen worldly alliances. The focus shifted from God and led to a fractured kingdom.

    We always remember the legacy of Solomon’s wisdom–and rightly so–because it is a powerful lesson for us that all answered prayer must be relegated back to God, and all benefits resulting from it must also be proclaimed back to God in His glory, not our own. The phrase “Solomon’s wisdom” shows us that he came to think of it as belonging to him, not God. Although God did not take His gift away, he lost his house. The House of David remained, but the House of Solomon was removed; the blood line to Christ came from his father through his younger brother, Nathan. As we pray to our Father, we must give thanks and honor our intercessor, Jesus Christ, who makes it all possible. And we must always remember that all gifts–and all things that generate from them–belong to Him. It is only in true humility that God can incline His ear to hear. A parent always delights in an appreciative child and rushes to lavish every gift possible, for doing so gives the giver great joy.

    • Thanks for your comments, the story of Solomon is definitely an intriguing one regarding wisdom, especially when you consider that his behavior as a king violated every single one of the laws that are a part of the law of kings in Deuteronomy 17:14-20.

  2. Pingback: Maybe This Is My Heart And Maybe It Is Yours | Edge Induced Cohesion

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