Wisdom and Humility

Proverb 13: 10

Through overconfidence comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

The God’s Word translation uses the word “arrogance” in place of overconfidence. I guess either will do. The point is that when we think we have all the answers, are the font of knowledge, inevitably we come to ruin. Wisdom is in an abundance of counselors.

If the book of Proverbs stands for any one thing, it is wisdom. Here, then, is another dose of wisdom. Solicit advice, receive counsel. In the end, you still have to make your own decision, but you can do so with more perspective. There is something more here though.

Arrogance leads to strife; the verse tells us. This statement is an acknowledgement that we live in dynamic systems. No one is an island. Your decisions affect others. Even at times when it seems your life course is purely a matter of your own concern, it rarely is the case. Our decisions affect others. When we exclude those people from speaking into our lives, we sow seeds of strife. We convey their unimportance and our lack of respect for their thoughts.

My best friend in college didn’t see many things the way I did. You would think that would make us unlikely friends. However, it was just the opposite. I could have never thought the things she thought or seen from those perspectives without her. She always opened my mind to different views. Even if it was sometimes painful for me to stretch that far, it was always illustrative and valuable. Even to this day, I am a better person for having known her. And she is still someone I call when trying to sort out complicated questions.

My point is, first, you don’t have to have all the answers. That really is God’s job and way too heavy a burden for any of us. Second, being that person only makes others think of you as arrogant and dislike you. Third, it sows the seeds of strife in families, work settings and even in friendship. Fourth, it proves you to be unwise rather than wise. The arrogant prove themselves to be ignorant. What a Catch 22 that is. Only those humble enough to receive counsel prove themselves wise. Last, I would add that it is that person who receives counsel who proves themselves secure. The overconfident, arrogant person is anything but self-assured. The truly secure are able to hear other opinions without being intimidated.

So, who are you and who do you want to be? Can you graciously give advice? Can you receive counsel? It is not a sign of weakness to ask other’s opinions. It is a sign of strength.

Proverb 13

Free for the Asking

James 1: 5

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

There is not one among us who does not, at some time, lack wisdom but we have good news delivered to us by Jesus’ brother, James. James walked out his beliefs through experience with God and Jesus. James wasn’t always a believer. Once James, along with Jesus’ other brothers went to seize him and take him home because they thought he was out of his mind (Mark 3: 21). But James watched and listened and he became a pillar of the church. He learned the ways of God even though he began in doubt and unbelief. Therefore, when James speaks, we can trust that he came by his knowledge through experience with the Christ. When he tells us that we can receive wisdom freely from our Father then we can trust that he knew what he was talking about because James lived it. The first step to receiving wisdom from God is believing that God will give it to you. Hopefully having James the unbelieving tell you from his own experience that God gives wisdom freely resolves the first problem.  

The second part is hearing God. Sometimes our receptors malfunction and though God is giving His wisdom freely and generously we can’t receive it. Here is a technique that I use to help me see through God’s eyes. I counsel myself. More accurately, I imagine someone else with my problem and think about what I would tell them if I was advising them. In this way I advise myself but with the wisdom of God because with this technique I find it quite easy to receive the wisdom of God. Another method I use is to picture myself seated at a table with God. I explain the situation to Him and then I look at Him and hear what He says about it. This level of focus helps me to receive His wisdom because it takes the pressure off of me to “hear” the voice of God. I just look at this scenario I have set, see myself there with Father and just listen to what He says to the me in the image. 

One other thing that helps me sometimes is to get a new perspective. Move out of yourself and see yourself and your situation through someone else’s eyes or from their view. It’s like stepping back from the situation and viewing it from a third person perspective. Sometimes we are so close to a situation that we cannot see, so it helps to move away. And here is one last little trick that I often use. Picture yourself standing on the moon looking down at the earth. What do you see? Do some global issues take on a different appearance from out there? Now, can you zoom into your world? Look at your environment. What is really important there? Are you spending your energy on the things that are most important? If you and God could sit there together and look at your life with this perspective what, if anything, would you do differently? Which problems no longer look so big?

I believe these techniques will help you to relax and gain the Father’s perspective and wisdom. We try so hard to hear Him sometimes that we block the flow. He is happy to lead you by His wisdom so take every little and large situation to Him and let Him show you His way.