Driving in the Wrong Direction

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Proverbs 26:12 (NIV)

Many years ago when I was attending the University of Alabama, my best friend Tracie and I headed off to a Christian retreat one Friday afternoon. Keep in mind, there was no Siri, MapQuest or any other wonderful digital mapping tools available at this time. All we had was our own common sense (Ha!) and a spirit of adventure, which meant 45 minutes into the drive to Mississippi, we began seeing the outskirts of Birmingham. If you’re from Alabama, you know that the city I just mentioned is not on the way to Mississippi from Tuscaloosa, but is actually in the opposite direction. If we had consulted a map, or even simply checked the directions instead thinking we knew what was best, we could have avoided our foolish mistake!

Solomon’s words in Proverbs 26:12 echo this sentiment. When we rely on our own “wisdom” and refuse to seek counsel, there is little hope for us. I believe there are two key points about wisdom that we find in this verse:

  1. Wisdom must come from God. Proverbs is rooted in the wisdom of God, and true wisdom comes only from God’s word (Proverbs 1:7). Solomon tells us that relying on our own “wisdom” results in foolishness and failure (Proverbs 3:35).
  2. Pride is an obstacle to gaining wisdom. If we act on what we think we know is right without consulting the Lord, or godly people or resources, we will inevitably stumble. It takes humility to ask for help, but the rewards far outweigh the consequences of acting according to our pride (Proverbs 4:5-7, Proverbs 15:22).

The book of Proverbs is filled with descriptions of the wise person and the foolish person. The wise person is humble (Proverbs 22:4), speaks kindly (Proverbs 10:31-32), seeks peace (Proverbs 13:1), is generous (Proverbs 11:25), is faithful to his/her spouse (Proverbs 5:15-18), and is honest (Proverbs 10:9). The only way to exhibit these attributes is to gain godly wisdom.

The fool, on the other hand, is proud (Proverbs 11:2), quick to anger (Proverbs 14:29), dishonest (Proverbs 11:3), stingy (Proverbs 28:22), lazy (Proverbs 13:4), unfaithful (Proverbs 6:27-29) and rude (Proverbs 10:12), all of which result when we plow ahead in our own “wisdom” instead of fearing the Lord and seeking his wisdom before we act.

Solomon tells us that when we believe we are wise in our own eyes, there is more hope for the fool than for us. Consider the traits of foolish people and the hopeless condition their foolishness causes. Then, consider wisdom and the benefits that come when we avoid those foolish traits.

Are you facing a situation in which you could use wisdom? Look to God’s word for your answer. Discuss your situation with godly friends whom you can trust. Pray about the matter and wait for God to direct you, rather than relying on your own wisdom (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Going back to my college story, Tracie and I did make it to our retreat. And thanks to good directions, we made it home as well. We learned that driving in the wrong direction is easy to do when we don’t consult a map. Not seeking wisdom is like not consulting a map when you don’t know where you’re going. It is always best to weigh matters carefully and wait patiently on God before making any decision.

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