For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:6 (NIV)
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:6 (KJV)
52 Proverbs in 52 Weeks – Week 4
This week’s theme: True Wisdom
Fake news! How many times have we heard that phrase over the last couple of years? Information that one group of individuals vigorously proclaims as unassailable truth another group declares, with equal vigor, as patently false. Even more, there seems to be no agreeable path to determine fact from fiction. That’s certainly not a debate to tackle in this post, but what’s interesting is that both groups tend to agree on one aspect of the fake news argument: the critical factor in determining “fake” from “real” is usually the source of the information. Who or what was the source? Was it fact or evidence based? Is that source trustworthy? Does it have a record of accuracy & truth? When discerning “real” from “fake,” both sides agree that it comes down to the source.
Unfortunately, “Fake Wisdom” (yeah, I made that up 🙂 ) also runs rampant in our world today. For example, a quick Google search for sources of happiness, contentment, or success yields page after page of articles filled with “wisdom” on these topics. One of the top hits, written by a PhD in Psychology, defines success as “the ability of individuals to reach their own goals and achieve their own purposes.” Similarly, another of the top hits lists 13 sources of happiness. 12 of 13 start with the word “I” and include “I focus on what I want” and “I follow my dreams.” I’m sorry, but that’s “Fake Wisdom.”
The good news, however, is that we have a clear way to discern “fake” from “real” when it comes to wisdom. And, just as it does with fake news, it comes down to the source. Our verse for this week, Proverbs 2:6, makes the source of true wisdom crystal clear: For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (NIV)
So…building on the example of happiness and success above, let’s do a quick comparison of the words of our LORD with the advice of human experts…
Fake Wisdom: Focus on what “I” want and measure success against my own goals and purposes.
True Wisdom: Put others first, do nothing out of selfish ambition, and focus on eternal things instead of worldly things.
No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. – 1 Corinthians 1:24 (NIV)
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:16 (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
As a closing note, the message here isn’t that the wealth of information available across the internet is somehow inherently wrong or bad—to the contrary, much of it contains helpful advice and I use Google productively every day (even for this post). The message is that we must be especially discerning when separating fact from fiction in today’s environment. And, if we’re earnestly searching for knowledge and understanding, we must start with the source of true wisdom—our God.