You can round up any given number of people who've attended a fare share of weddings and, chances are, you'd be able to gather some pretty consistent descriptions of what love is. "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant..." and so on (1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV). But what about wisdom? Wisdom is... what? Well, that's my question. And I'm guessing, like love, the answer is best in list form. So I've decided to spend the next few weeks learning about what wisdom is.
Today's attempt to gain a better biblical understanding of wisdom has led me to one undeniable characteristic: Wisdom is Humble.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. (Proverbs 8:33 ESV)
Sometimes it takes every bit of self-control within me to just bite my tongue and listen to advice. That feeling of despise I get when I'm being given instruction is my (not-so-inner) inner fool showing his ornery, stubborn face.
Fearing The Lord, to know and respect Him, is a good solid start to becoming wise, but then we're hit with a whammy in the second portion of that first verse. "fools despise... instruction." Ouch! I don't know many people that take instruction well, and I know that I certainly don't either! But obviously, neglecting it isn't the right thing to do...
So what should I do? I best just take a deep breath and set my ego aside when someone begins to instruct me. I need to really hear what's being said; it might be a nugget of awesomeness! Then again, it may not, but I'll never know without giving it a shot!
But a wise man isn't humble just because he listens to the people God gathered around him; a wise man is humble because he knows all his understanding comes from the Spirit of God in him. Now, this next verse is just a bit counter-cultural:
But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. (Job 32:8, 9 ESV)
A lifetime of experience is priceless, but nothing compares to the knowledge gained when God is present in us, and that's something we can't take any credit for. Age and education don't always equivocate wisdom. Knowing its something given to me, not earned and not a characteristic of who I just happen to be, means I really don't have a right to be proud of it. No achievement, no degree, not even growing old will give me boasting rights!
God is wise, and the more He is in me, the more wisdom I have. It's nothing I've earned or achieved! Now, this last Proverb makes it very clear that wisdom is humble.
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12 ESV)
There's not a whole lot of room for interpretation there! Basically, if you think you're wise... you're not.
Wisdom is accepting of instruction. Wisdom is a result of the breath of the Almighty within us and not of our own doing. Wisdom is an awareness that there's always more to learn, of others far more wise, and of one's own limitedness.
Wisdom is humble.