The humility of wisdom

When’s the last time you heard anyone say they needed wisdom? About the only time I hear anyone mention wisdom is in regard to a particular situation. “I need wisdom about this job decision.” I’m praying for wisdom for dealing with Johnny’s continued disobedience.”

But when is the last time we thought about our need for wisdom just to live our everyday lives for God’s honor and glory? We often pray that He will guide us, provide for us, forgive us. But do we pray for wisdom? Do we value wisdom as the Bible does?

Or do we plunge ahead with our day and our plans, thinking we know everything we need to and can make our own choices?

Our church has been reading through Proverbs together the last few weeks. If you’re familiar at all with Proverbs, you know it is all about wisdom. I don’t think there is a chapter that doesn’t mention it. And since we’ve been camped out there, the need for and value of wisdom have been emphasized repeatedly and in varying ways.

A full-scale study of wisdom would take more space than a blog post allows. But what struck me most during this reading is the humility of wisdom.

It takes humility to understand that we need wisdom, that to go our own way often leads us astray.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
 Proverbs 14:12

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10

It takes humility to search for wisdom, to acknowledged that I don’t have it, and no matter how much I have, I need more.

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;  yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

It takes humility to receive and instruction, and even more to receive rebuke. I was familiar with one or two verses about it being wise to receive reproof,  but I’ve noted 19 so far! Here are a few:

Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:12

The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:31-33

By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.
 Proverbs 13:10

If someone tries to correct us, is our first response, “I better take heed: I might gain some wisdom from this?” No, our first response is anger with thoughts of “Who do you think you are?” and “Don’t judge me!” But the Bible says the wise person listens and learns. By contrast, “A scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1) and “He who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1).

It’s scary to think of the personal consequences of rejecting reproof: it’s even more scary to realize that my lack of listening to instruction can negatively affect others. “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17).

I wonder if this lack of realization of our need for wisdom is behind our subtle ageism, even in the church. Once when visiting a new church, someone was showing us where the various classes were, and as we passed one door, our guide said, “Oh, you don’t want that one. That’s where the older folks are.” One younger lady told me she didn’t come to our ladies’ meetings because she thought only older ladies attended – even though at that time most of the attendees were just in their forties. Instead of deeming older people as worthy of our time and drawing on their wisdom, we label them out of touch, too slow, not “with it.” Proverbs honors older saints and the value of listening to authorities.

Of course, the need for wisdom runs throughout the Bible, not just Proverbs. One notable passage says:

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. Colossians 2:1-4.

May we continually seek Him and His wisdom through His Word.

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(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire, Grace and Truth. Links do not imply complete endorsement)

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13 thoughts on “The humility of wisdom

  1. I enjoyed your thoughts on wisdom! It does seem that in the present time, people are all so defensive about their own positions that it’s not PC to admit a need for wisdom. True, too, that the wisdom that older people often possess is spurned these days — along with the older people themselves. Your anecdotes about older people were interesting and do ring true, sadly.

  2. Good insights, Barbara. Too often we only think about wisdom for specific situations, when in reality we need to be seeking wisdom every morning before we even get out of bed. I’m grateful for all the emphasis on wisdom in scripture. It reminds me to treasure it and be proactive in seeking it.

  3. Amen!! Thank you!! As one of those older ones I can say without hesitation we never ever outgrow our need for daily wisdom from our Great and Awesome God. So very thankful to Him for His Word.

  4. We need wisdom in our every day lives. In these days, we need it to survive. I have to admit I’m not always really great at receiving wisdom from others unless I ask for their thoughts. Humility is the key and sometimes I have to work on that. A wonderful post on wisdom and humility. Thank you!

  5. Thank you, Barbara, for this reminder of how important it is that we ask God for wisdom for our everyday lives…not just when there is a decision that we need to make. I wonder if we would do that every day if it would make the decisions later down the road much easier to realize what we need to do. And humility is indeed what leads us to ask for wisdom…to admit that we don’t know it all.

  6. I agree, often we think of our need for wisdom in specific situations and don’t give it the value it deserves in everyday life. I think it’s sad too when older people are discounted – their wisdom is so valuable and I think different generations can learn so much from each other. We all need one another!

  7. I never thought about the connection between humility and wisdom before, but you are right, Barbara. We do need the humility to recognize the need to ask for wisdom. Too often we think we have all the answers (or maybe that’s just me).

  8. I went looking for your post today, Barbara, and this was certainly worth looking for.
    I am so aware of my need for wisdom in the big picture, but I can be pretty haughty about things when my foolishness is revealed or called out by God through circumstances. Thanks for this insight.

  9. Pingback: End-of-March musings | Stray Thoughts

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