There is a fool in all of us. There are every-day ways in which we trust self over God. It is not hard to list the things in which we trust our own, or perhaps a trusted friend’s, experience over the instruction given us by God.
Take for example marriage. The Bible gives instruction on why to marry, whom to marry, how to define the husband and wife roles, how to parent children, and how to honour your elderly parents. But, we hear ourselves say things like “My mom used to …” or “Well, I grew up differently.” or “Our way works better for us”.
Or take money. God says save for the day of trouble, but still be a cheerful giver. We, on the other hand, either invest everything in the newest financial scheme, or we think we are spiritual for giving away all our belongings. God says be careful with debt. We, on the other hand, call our bank before we open the Bible when we plan to buy a home.
The same with our attitude to work. God says work and work hard. But we listen to our colleagues to work as little as possible while still expecting a salary and even an increase. God says work to get riches little-by-little; all the best of this world’s shops say “Enter to win millions quickly”.
There is a fool in all of us. But as Christians, who love God and believe His Word, we must put that fool in us to death. We must recognise our inclination to follow experience instead of instruction.
In Proverbs 22:17-21 a very special kind of listening is mentioned. Don’t resort to merely learning from your mistakes; listen to knowledge.
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the LORD, I have made them known to you today, even to you. Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge, to make you know what is right and true, that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?Proverbs 22:17-21 (ESV)
Listening is the prerequisite to wisdom. But not just “in the one ear, and out the other ear” kind of listening. “Listen” Proverbs says, “by teaching your ear to always lean towards the instruction from the wise.” The picture of “incline your ear” is that of a tree at the end of a forest that leans far over to get more of the sunlight that is so necessary for its growth. Be zealous in studying wisdom. Let them be so much part of you so that when you open your own mouth, the words of the wise come out.
The end product of listening to Divine instruction is very rewarding: true wisdom; wisdom enough for every issue. Here, just past the middle of the book, you have the best exposition on the best way of obtaining the best sort of wisdom.
Do not trust in man’s experiences and theories. Listen to God’s Word, and you will receive true wisdom, and as much as you might possibly need.