Don’t Outsmart Yourself
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil.
We see it all the time: Federal agents arrest prominent businessmen for their part in corporate fraud, and the media broadcasts accounts of the shattered lives of celebrities who wrecked their lives with foolish decisions. When reporters interview these people, they reply, “ It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I didn’t see anything wrong with it.”
For them and the rest of us, making decisions on our own can devastate us- and it ruins our relationships with those we love. Over and over again in the Scriptures, God assures us that He will give us wisdom if we just ask for it.
Solomon knew a thing or two about dumb decisions. He had made plenty of them! In this brief ethical statement, he gives us two directions that can prevent us from depending on our own wisdom and making similar mistakes. First, he instructs us to “fear the Lord,” which means to have the utmost respect and reverence for God. The bigger He appears in our heart’s perspective, the more we will trust Him. Genuine reverence for God is an attitude of the heart that results in godly action. Second, Solomon told us to depart from evil. That advice should be a no-brained, but all of us need to be reminded not to play with the fires of deception, greed, and pride.
Trusting in our own wisdom inevitably brings trouble, but we show true wisdom by respecting God and staying far away from evil.
Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.
Robert Lewis Stevenson
I’m sure most of us have had those moments when we were sure we knew everything. Hopefully those were brief immature moments. I laugh and tell folks that I sure wish I had written everything down when I was a teenager with all the answers but wasn’t being asked the questions. Now at this stage of life I’m getting all the questions and either I’ve forgotten or never knew the answers. Wisdom, like every other precept in the Bible begins at the point that we confess what we don’t know. Only at the point of our admitting we don’t know will we turn to the only source of wisdom, God.
Solomon had grown up being schooled and trained for the throne as the successor to his father David. After his father died and Solomon assumed the throne, God appeared to him and offered him anything he desired.
In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask [Me] what I shall give you.” Then Solomon said, “You have shown Your servant David my father great lovingkindness, because he walked before You in faithfulness and righteousness and with uprightness of heart toward You; and You have kept for him this great lovingkindness, in that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today. So now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of David my father; and as for me, I am but a little boy [ in wisdom and experience]; I do not know how to go out or come in [that is, how to conduct business as a king]. Your servant is among Your people whom You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart [with which] to judge Your people, so that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge and rule this great people of Yours?”
1 Kings 3:5-9
Listen to Solomon’s words again: “as for me I am but a little boy; I do not know how to go out or come in.” That’s the beginning of wisdom. Solomon acknowledged that he was not wise even with all his training. He needed the wisdom of God and that’s what he chose out of all that God offered. Again we read: “So give your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart so that I may discern between good and evil.” And God did. We read the story of the two women who claimed to be the mother of the living child and how Solomon found wisdom to determine who was the real mother. There is no wisdom above the wisdom of God.
For years now my daily prayer and one I hope becomes yours is: “Lord, grant me wisdom, knowledge and understanding so that I may choose wisely this day.”
When we come to the place where we admit we don’t know, we open ourselves then to receive the wisdom that comes from God. James says that if any of us lack wisdom, we are to ask and God will give liberally. Only those who admit they don’t know will ask. But those who acknowledge their lack and ask will find amazing wisdom and knowledge far beyond anything they could imagine.
So whatever decision you are facing today, take some time and seek the wisdom of God.
Dr. John Thompson