Wisdom Starts Here
Imagine how great life would be if:
• Financially, you were caught up on all of your bills. Not only that, but you had a little extra set aside for emergencies.
• In your marriage, you came home every night looking forward to seeing your spouse. Your kids were well-behaved (not perfect) and on their way to loving God.
• In your relationship with God, you felt a close intimacy with Him that guided you in every area of your life. Rather than constantly maintaining a fellowship you’ve broken with your sin, you were consistently growing closer to God every single year.
Sounds idealistic, right? Actually, this is exactly the life wisdom offers to you and me.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to gaining wisdom, I feel like there are so many places to start. If I want the life that wisdom offers, how do I gain wisdom? Is it by reading more of the Bible? Do I need to pray more? Do I need to read some more books? How do I get wisdom—where do I start?
Solomon says the pursuit of wisdom begins with one discipline—listening. Not just listening, but wisdom begins with listening to hard things.
In Proverbs 9:8, Solomon makes it clear that there is a stark contrast between the scorner and the wise man’s response to correction.
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
The scorner responds to correction with anger. When a pastor preaches a message that corrects the scorner’s way of life, he responds by inwardly resenting his pastor. When a scorner is corrected by their spouse, they respond by immediately denying the truth of any accusation. When a good friend points out something that could improve in the scorner’s life, the scorner responds by thinking, “Who do you think you are?”
It’s hard to place much blame on the scorner because nobody enjoys correction. As people, we don’t just like to be right, we live to be right. Our pride naturally acts as a barrier from receiving correction that can help us to grow in wisdom.
While the wise man doesn’t enjoy correction any more than the scorner, the wise man welcomes correction because he knows that correction is the primary way for him to grow in wisdom.
A wise employee welcomes the correction from their boss that will make them a better employee. They are even willing to seek out correction if their company doesn’t give performance reviews. When a wise wife is confronted by her husband about something in their marriage, she doesn’t give the silent treatment. She hears out her husband’s concerns and confesses to what she did wrong. Her love grows for her husband because he’s open enough to talk about issues in their marriage. A wise student welcomes correction from a teacher because they realize that that teacher is helping them avoid some mistakes down the road.
Some people think wisdom comes from retreat and study, but Solomon offers a more practical course to gain wisdom. Wisdom comes in the heat of the moment, when you least expect it. Wisdom comes through correction in those moments that you least want to hear it. It is those moments of correction that plant the seeds for growing in wisdom. Mark it down: the amount of wisdom you possess is directly proportionate to the amount of correction you’re willing to receive.
What is most interesting to me about Proverbs 9 is that Solomon immediately transitions to a verse 10, with which we are all familiar:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
I always thought that maybe this was a classic example of how Proverbs seemingly changes subjects on a dime. It then dawned on me that Solomon was pointing to the root problem for anybody who struggles with authority. Solomon reveals that our attitude towards authority is simply a reflection of our attitude towards God. When we lack respect for those who correct us, we are showing disrespect to God, who lovingly placed those people in our lives to help us. Solomon is saying that God has placed your spouse, your teachers, spiritual authorities, and good friends in your life as messengers of His correction.
I’ll be honest, I have a hard time receiving correction from my wife in the heat of an argument. It’s hard for me to receive correction when I can look across the table and see a person whose faults I know. What has helped me tremendously is to realize that it’s not my wife correcting me; it is God correcting me through my wife. As someone new to the ministry, I’ve spent my fair share of time receiving correction across the desk from a more experienced person in the ministry. Everything that is in my flesh loathes those times of correction, but it has helped me so much to realize that God is using other staff members and my pastor to help me grow in wisdom. It doesn’t matter what faults I see in the person giving the correction because the correction is coming from God. The individual correcting me is just a vessel God has chosen to provide an opportunity to increase in wisdom.
Many of us think we have an overbearing boss, a nagging spouse, or a “holier than thou” friend. We think the tension in our lives is the result of problems from our authorities, but Solomon points to a deeper issue: we have a “God problem” not an “authority problem”. When we have humility before the Lord, the natural result will be humility toward correction.
IT STARTS HERE
So, on your journey to grow in wisdom, where should you begin? The answer is simple: welcome correction into your life. Wise people welcome correction. With each piece of constructive criticism, your life will be governed more and more by wisdom. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the wonderful lifestyle that wisdom offers to all who partake.
Listen to correction this week… it can only help you.