If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. – James 3:14-15
Here’s a rather pointed statement: “Arrogance and wisdom are essentially incompatible.” Or, “Humility is a critical component element of wisdom.”
To put this another way, and according to James (check out The Wisdom from Above for more on this), “Wisdom requires humility, peace, putting others first, and sincerity.”
If we approach any situation from the perspective of proving our own rightness or showing others’ error, or if we read the scriptures looking to confirm what we already “know” to be true, or if we engage discussions or disagreements or debates without authentic curiosity and real humility – then we are not, according to scripture, in any way connected to the wisdom from above.
“I have nothing to learn”
Just as truth is a more complete concept than mere facts, so wisdom is something that eludes those of us who observe, or believe, or know one-dimensionally. And by one-dimensionally I mean limited to one lens, or perspective, or point of view, or filter. This “truth” is verifiable only by what has already been pre-determined. We won’t find much of truth in an echo chamber, but that is where so many of us go to confirm our preferences, prejudices, and preconceptions.
This is one reason I value my men’s covenant group so much. If I showed up with my lesson outline and simply taught, then my limited perspective would be all there was, plus the study and research I had done. But instead, God’s word is examined and prayed over and studied and discussed and lived by a roomful of guys… who then bring it all to our group and we share what we are learning with humble hearts, and we listen to one another, and we pray, and we bounce ideas around… and the Holy Spirit gets involved, and we meditate, and then – more often than you’d imagine – we have this collective “uh-hu” moment and we begin, tentatively, to brush up against the truth.
This is how we are supposed to engage ideas. Consider these statements:
- Collaboration is not about walking away from our values;
- Compromise is not a dirty word;
- Being willing to be honestly wrong is a huge step toward getting closer to being more authentically right;
- What I know may only be partial – now we see in a glass darkly, but then we will see/understand/know more clearly.
Proving ourselves “right” and someone else “wrong” seldom gets anyone any closer to the truth. Fact is, wisdom is much more likely to emerge from a room full of people who understand that they are all at least a little bit wrong – and all at least a little bit right.
Peace – and I mean that in so many ways – DEREK