“The way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). This takes humility to accept. The world has rejected this view of life. It is considered demeaning to depend on the guidance of another. Weakness and inferiority is displayed in the pursuit of counsel. Yet, competence is not the ability to live life without guidance but understanding the need for it. An incompetent man is one molded entirely by his own preconceived notions separate from any objective truth. Satan lies about an ability to govern self – “The way of man is not in himself.” While we can be tempted to view ourselves as an exception to the rule, we must maintain perspective – everyone needs wise counsel!
The ultimate source of wise counsel is the revealed word of God. This must not be viewed as a way to justify decisions already made, but as an avenue of communication from God to us in which we can appeal to His divine wisdom. In approaching God’s word, there must be a predisposition toward it. Like the Bereans who were “more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The response to the wisdom of God’s word should be full and immediate acceptance, as it is the best way to live. This mindset should take place before delving into the truth. For the wisdom of God cannot be filtered by the wisdom of man. Otherwise, it is no longer God’s wisdom. The Psalmist understood this when he wrote, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). No man is truly blessed separate from adherence to God’s divine word. For, the all of man is to fear God and keep His commandments (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:13).
The source of heavenly wisdom also unveils the value in seeking wise counsel from learned, and seasoned elders. Advice given from an “I’ve been there before” standpoint is highly devalued among many. Youth cling to the erroneous idea that spiritual decisions and problems change with technology and culture. Grandpa may not have had an air conditioner and a television, but his experiences while striving to live for God can be a tremendous help to his grandchild who is having to consider the same options. It is foolish to seek wisdom in experiencing mistakes. Yes, one will make mistakes, and one must learn from them – wisdom is gleaned. However, it is prudent to consider counsel from the wise, and learn from their experiences. “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).
“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Thus, God has provided us with a standard applicable to all times, circumstances, cultures, and peoples. We must not be presumptuous by claiming our situation is greater than the instruction God gives us in His word. We must view God’s word as the handbook of life. We cannot function properly without His continual guidance in all things. Additionally, we must understand parents, grandparents, older Christians, and elders that shepherd the flock are all sources of wisdom graciously provided by our divine Caretaker. It is folly to neglect ourselves the wisdom provided us.
“Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; for I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; she will bring you honor, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory she will deliver to you’” (Proverbs 4:1-9).