Bragging Rights #1. “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom” (Jer.9:23).

Bragging Rights #1. “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom” (Jer.9:23).

I met a young man (somewhere in his 20s) who mows lawns for a living. I was surprised when he told me that he has three university degrees. He laughed and said, “While I am trying to find a position in my specialised field of botany, my mother still expects me to pay rent.” I was reminded of others with equal numbers of letters following their names, but none, that I recall, with the humility or hard work inherent in this young man.

Be it a certified intellect, an established talent, or a superior skill, the danger of arrogance is ever near. Paul’s warning rings in our ears: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1Cor.8:2).

It is bad enough that a man wise in his own estimation might look down on another, but quite another that he thinks that God deems it appropriate for him to do so. God’s description of such a man is not pretty:

“Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride”
(Proverbs 21:24).

It was an established fact that Ahithophel was the wisest adviser in Israel under King David. However, his decision to throw in his lot with Absalom put him at odds with God. Being subsequently outsmarted by God through David’s other adviser, Hushai, Ahithophel went home and killed himself. Ahithophel-the-wise boasted in his own wisdom. Undoubtedly, if his advice had been taken it would have assured David’s death and Absalom’s reign as king. But Ahithophel’s confidence in his own wisdom was ignominiously cancelled by Absalom’s even greater confidence that he himself was smarter than Ahithophel.

As in all things spiritual, wisdom is vindicated by its actions. James lists the fruits of true wisdom:

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

There is no room for bragging there!

John Staiger

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