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Too Smart to Learn

Too Smart to Learn

Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. Ecclesiastes 4:13

Occasionally, while driving in town near dusk, I fail to turn on my headlights as it gets dark. Because there is enough ambient streetlight, I don’t notice this until some approaching car flashes its lights at me. The right thing, when I realize my error, would be to immediately turn on my lights. Something inside me though, rebels at the thought of someone else controlling my behavior. So, childishly, I wait until that car is a block or two behind me, and then I flip on my lights. I did this on my own. It had nothing to do with you. I meant to drive with my lights off until just now.

Even as I’m doing it, I know it’s stupid, but my pride overthrows all reason and mandates that I do my own thing, even if it is wrong, destructive and dangerous. If this were only about headlights at dusk, it wouldn’t be such a problem, but I’m afraid this arrogance paralyzes my growth in other areas of life as well.

In my mind, I’m only willing to learn from those whom I believe to know more than I do. As I get older and wiser – in my estimation – this list grows smaller. As my pride grows, my willingness to learn anything new, shrinks.

In today’s passage, King Solomon laments the absurdity of this condition, in which a king proves himself to be a fool by refusing to learn. At the pinnacle of power, the king won’t listen to anyone, believing himself to be above everyone. Afflicted by his pride, he cannot be wrong, he cannot learn and thus, he cannot grow. He has become too smart to learn.

We will never arrive in this life. Even the apostle Paul insisted that he was not yet perfect. We must always remain willing to learn from others if we desire to grow. Choosing humility, we must continually embrace instruction. It is in our pride, that we drive in the dark, proceeding down the road of destruction.

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