The Wise, Patient & Humble, Listen
June 21, 2010
God’s Word tells us that there is one thing that we are to desire above everything else. That one thing is Wisdom. I capitalize it as I do the word “Truth” when I am referring to that Wisdom and Truth (and Word and Life and Way) as the personification of Christ Jesus Himself. For there is “the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 3:19), and a wisdom of counterfeit gospels and teachings (1 Cor. 2:6,8 & 1 John 4:1,5), even doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1), all of which entail only “an appearance of wisdom” (Col. 2:23) –ones that are false, twisted, and misleading (Gal. 1:7), ones that “promote controversies rather than God’s work” (1 Tim. 1:4), ones that are merely “meaningless talk” (v. 6), and ones that are useless (Gal. 5:2,6) and do not deliver from God’s wrath. (Gal. 1:8 & Eph. 5:6)
So I speak of THE Wisdom.
And in Prov. 8:10,11, Wisdom says, “Choose My instruction… for Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” That is a pretty heavy statement: That nothing we desire compares… Why? Because Wisdom warns us to fear the Lord, to listen and heed His Word, and to follow carefully the promptings of His Spirit.
Wisdom will protect us. It will keep us from sin and evil, and from those who are wicked and deceitful, able to cause us harm. (13:20) It will keep us from stirring up dissension, which the Lord hates. (6:16,19) It will keep us from quarrels (13:10) which invite destruction (17:19), from being hot-headed and reckless (14:16) which causes hatred (14:17), and from rash words which lead only to ruin. (13:3)
Wisdom will tell us to consult other wise people. (24:6) Then the Spirit of God in us will confirm if that other adviser is speaking His mind on the matter. We cannot know if others are continuously clean before the Lord, so we must be careful. We are responsible for our own spirit, and that is what we are to guard with all diligence. But if we are walking in constant clean fellowship with the Lord, then we can know that what we think we are hearing from Him, is from Him. Of course, even then –even if our “conscience is clear– that does not make us innocent.” (See 1 Cor. 4:4) However, if we daily “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), then we must rest in faith (trust) that we do then “have the mind of Christ” (2:16) on the matter, confident that we know His mind. (See same verse, Ps. 32:8, Amos 4:13, & Isa. 50:4,5)
None of us is exempt, though, from being short-sighted in a certain area. For the Lord, who created our brains, created them to work naturally, not in perpetual “miracle mode”. In other words, He gives us His Spirit, His Wisdom, His Insight, His Truth…, but we are also to “train ourselves to be godly.” (1 Tim. 4:7) This means that we must study. We must listen to instruction, and sometimes that comes through others. We must be humble, not prideful in thinking we already know all theology and others don’t. For Wisdom will teach us that we must continue to listen to instruction (Prov. 19:27), never smugly believing that we have “arrived”.
Even if we must endure rebuke, Prov. 9:8,9 says, “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” See? So even if we be wise, we may sometimes be in need of rebuke ourselves. And one thing that will greatly aid us in acquiring discernment, is to have patience. –To wait, to listen, to wait again; pray about it, and ask God to help us discern whether or not the rebuke is from Him or in line with His mind. As Prov. 14:29 says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.” So we see that wisdom and patience go together. And as Prov. 15:31 warns, “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.” –Which means that if we do not listen, we could make our home with the fools.
Prov. 15:32 goes on: “He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” And, “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” (13:18) And again: “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.” (13:13)
Friends, let’s fear the Lord enough to be patient, careful, and wise. Let’s not be like the mocker, for “A mocker resents correction, he will not consult the wise.” (Prov. 15:12) We are to consult the wise. –Those who are wise with God’s Wisdom. For “The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” (16:21) Or as another version says of this same verse: “…and pleasant words make a man persuasive.”
Indeed, if we are rebuked, we need to weigh with wisdom and humility what was said. If we are the ones giving the rebuke, we are also to do so with wisdom and humility. For as that last verse says, it is pleasant (or gracious) words that best promote instruction, persuading the other to turn from his error or folly.