“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” (Solomon – Proverbs 4:7-9)
There are times when even the most gifted people need help. For most of us, it comes with some degree of regularity. A problem at work or around the house, a particularly difficult person we encounter, or an unexpected trauma, and our usual sense of competence may disappear like the morning dew.
Of course, we don’t always immediately realize our need for assistance. A project is started and, suddenly, we’re in over our heads. I came home from college one year and mom told me that dad had tried — against his better judgment — to rewire the family car’s electrical system. Now, my dad was a real “jack-of-all-trades.” But there were limits to his expertise. And he had passed the limit this time! The car’s rescue depended on someone who knew how to interpret an electrical diagram!
Occasionally I catch the advice on a nationally syndicated radio program. The variety of questions callers ask testifies to the host’s wide range of experience. But one of his personal pet peeves is for someone to argue about the need to secure an attorney for situations which, in the host’s opinion, call for legal advice. He often winds up criticizing the individual rather harshly...not usually a good approach to being helpful. In one instance, he concluded the conversation by forcefully saying, “If I need a haircut, I go to a barber; if I need legal advice, I go to a lawyer; and if I’m sick, I see a doctor!”
In spite of his extreme impatience, that’s good counsel. The word of God is full of strong (though never rude) exhortations for us to seek the counsel of those who are competent. Here are three examples.
1. In unambiguous terminology, King Solomon wrote, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice" (Proverbs 12:15).
2. The patriarch Job, miserable yet reverent, declared: "To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his” (12:13).
3. Jesus said to the self-satisfied church in Laodicea, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:18).
Not only do we need wise counsel about earthly concerns such as electrical systems; we especially need it about spiritual things, both here and in the hereafter. We should to be humble enough to seek the wisdom of God in Holy Scripture, as well as through the counsel of men and women who are intimately acquainted with the Lord and his will. Then we can avoid the pitfalls of those whose minds are centered on the things that, as one old hymn says, are destined to “perish with using.”