“Be not wise in your own conceits.” These words pack a knockout punch to our pride. The infinite counsel of God through Paul’s pen removes from us the choice of ever leaning upon our wisdom. The command anticipates that we will, at some point, take an inventory of our own lives in order to draw a conclusion concerning our discernment. We are prohibited from ever declaring that we are sufficiently wise. The warning is so strong that we find that there is no occasion where any allowance is given. Never conclude that you have enough wisdom. NEVER!
However, God does not desire for us to despair — wisdom is available! He simply does not permit us to look to the empty well of our own reasoning, intellect, enlightenment or experiences. The teaching of His Word tells me that, when I foolishly look to myself for guidance, I will leave that well either drinking foul water or devoid of any water at all. When circumstance opens wide its mouth to swallow me, I have no wisdom of my own to escape. When problems of life confuse me, I should not run to the library of my past experiences to locate a textbook on how to reason my way through the dilemma. When people fail me or when I fail them, there is nothing within the flesh-painted walls of my common sense that can make sense of the hurt. Unfortunately, even considering our own personal experiences and learned wisdom, there are simply not enough answers which can perfectly assist us. Never be wise in your own sight!
What then do we do? What is our recourse?
Where we run to for hope has been the same since the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, being wise in their own sight, adorned themselves with fig leaves to mask their shame. They ran from God, but God ran to them. The fig leaves were discarded, and animal skins were exchanged. God’s wisdom reigned while man’s wisdom was cast aside.
King David longed for Bathsheba and somehow convinced himself that it was permissible to have her. His wisdom led to adultery, deceit, murder, and refusal of repentance. God sent courageous Nathan with a piercing parable of one who stole a lamb to expose David’s flawed sense of wisdom. David’s own words, now revealing God’s wisdom concerning justice, unknowingly condemned his own actions. When Nathan pronounced, “Thou art the man!” David’s reasoning died and God’s holy truth was enthroned.
Esther was granted prominence in the Persian kingdom “for a time such as this.” God placed her in the palace to become queen so that He might employ her influence to save His people. Esther trembled while Mordecai led her and God’s children to fast and pray. She gained the wisdom and strength to request of her husband a plan to spare the Hebrews —and Israel’s enemy, Haman, had his evil plots fall apart as the noose of his own wisdom was tightened around his neck.
Saul of Tarsus, in mighty intellect and burning zeal, sought to kill the Christians of his day. Plotting and pursuing, the man who would become the great evangelist made his way to Damascus. His own wisdom assured him that God was on his side, but the blazing glory of Jesus Christ outshone the sun and put him face down in the dust (our own wisdom always puts us here). He received the gift of salvation, a divine commission and a short season in darkness wherein his eyes could not see (a healthy reminder that our own wisdom can only produce darkness).
In all these cases, the wisdom of man was, at best, insufficient, and, at worst, completely disastrous. How amazingly gracious of God to put an end to our trust in the reservoir of self! That cistern has long been cracked and empty, but God’s well is full.
Never be wise in your own eyes. When you come to this place of acknowledgment, nothing will prevent you from looking to the all-wise, ever-knowing, completely comprehensive God who has said the following to those who believe: