Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:16
Before I had kids, like many non-parents, I watched other kids bad behavior with horror, telling myself that I’d never allow my kids to act like that. I don’t remember giving a lot of unsolicited advice, but I do know that I was judgmental and condescending without realizing how utterly unqualified I was to have an opinion. Once I had my own kids of course, I began to realize my ignorance. Looking back now at some of those kids who’ve grown into adults, I realize that their parents actually did a pretty good job and that I probably could have learned from them. In my pride though, I wouldn’t have listened. I was wise in my own sight.
In today’s passage, Paul warned against this kind of arrogance, insisting that we should never consider ourselves to be wise. Pride is never wise, and in embracing it, we actually prove what fools we are. Self-proclaimed wisdom is a mistake – a sin – to be avoided. Does this mean that we cannot actually possess wisdom or that we’re not allowed to share wisdom with others?
Traditional recovery groups are based on peer support. Those who’ve found recovery must help those who’re seeking it. This means that the one living in sobriety passes on his experience, strength, and hope to the one still struggling with chemicals.
Likewise, in my men’s accountability group, we regularly share those things with which we’re struggling. Usually, someone else in the group has been there before and has some insight into the issue which we’ve not yet seen. It would be a useless group if we couldn’t share our common wisdom to build each other up. That’s what our small group model is based on – helping each other from our experience.
There’s a right and a wrong way to share wisdom though. If one of us assumed the role of Dr. Know-It-All, things would quickly fall apart. This is where Paul’s words strike a little too close to home for me. I believe that, in my blog, I’m supposed to share my experience with addiction, faith, and recovery. The temptation, however, is to find myself to be profoundly wise, knowing everything.
The problem is that I’m not all-wise. I just have some experience. So, Paul’s words today are for me. Daily, I must remind myself that I don’t have it all figured out. Then, in humility, I can (hopefully) appropriately share the strength, experience, and hope that God has given me.