As adults, when we are asked a question, our most frequent response is to give an answer – usually with our chest puffed out just a bit and our head held a little bit higher. We have been asked to pontificate and show our intelligence as we provide the individual standing before us with the information desired.
However, the wise response is to investigate the issue and then give an answer. Whether it is in the realm of the law, medicine, or any other discipline, the ability to identify the issue and then know where to look to find the answer is supremely better than just rattling off an answer based on what you recalled from yesterday, last month, or last year. Indeed, knowledge is important, but wisdom is far better.
Scripture has much to say about the know-it-all and wisdom.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
A college education may indicate learning, but real knowledge comes from reverent fear of the Lord. Praise God for Christian universities such as Taylor University, Upland, Indiana, that provide a quality education while fostering Christian growth in their students as well.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
And he said to man, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom and to turn away from evil is understanding.”
What is the “fear of the Lord”? The answer to that requires more space than as a footnote to this post. But, suffice it to say at this juncture, the following excerpt from “What Does it Mean to Fear God?,” an article posted October 22, 2016 by Dr. R. C. Sproul in the Ligonier Blog gives us some guidance when thinking of the fear of God as noted in the Wisdom Literature of scripture:
The focus here is on a sense of awe and respect for the majesty of God. That’s often lacking in contemporary evangelical Christianity. We get very flippant and cavalier with God, as if we had a casual relationship with the Father. We are invited to call Him Abba, Father, and to have the personal intimacy promised to us, but still we’re not to be flippant with God. We’re always to maintain a healthy respect and adoration for Him.
So, we know the source of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Where does humility come into the picture?
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,…
So, what is humility? Someone named Anonymous said “Humility is a strange thing – the moment you think you’ve got it, you lose it.”
C. S. Lewis says that “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” In other words, it is the quality of “self-forgetfulness”. Rather than, “Me first,” humility allows us to say, “No, you first, my friend.”
This does not mean that we must be passive followers; humility does not require that we lose our voice or that we cannot lead. In Numbers 12:3 we read the following about Moses, the man who told Pharaoh to let God’s people go, the man who led the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years, the man who spoke directly with God and who received the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone:
“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (NIV)
Moses was humble and he didn’t seek his own welfare when attacked by his family. God stood up for him when he was attacked by his siblings. Read the rest of Numbers 12 to see the conflict between Moses and his brother and sister over Moses’ Cushite wife. What happened to them is priceless; but, if I may cut to the chase, I would simply summarize the story as – spoiler alert —
Of course this, too, is consistent with scripture. See, for example, Psalm 147:5-6 where we read:
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. (NIV)
In the Lord’s calculus, wisdom comes from Him and man’s humility trumps man’s pride every time.
Father, thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice that cleanses us from our sin and that results in life everlasting for the believer in Him. Thank You that we can come to You, acknowledging our lack of understanding, and that You will lead us and teach us in the way of righteousness. Grant me humility and enable me to see when I am acting in disregard of that quality. Then give me the grace to repent and return to Your side.