Words We Prefer Not to Hear: “Selflessness,” Part 3 February 26 2016
If you have ever seen “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” you remember in the climax of the movie the astute observation of the knight upon seeing the demise of the villain when he drank from the wrong goblet and perished: “he chose poorly.” Indiana Jones, on the other hand, “chose wisely.”
The Bible is clear that one aspect of wisdom involves discernment. Solomon’s resolution of the dispute between two mothers over the ownership of the baby is one of the best-known examples (I Kings 3:23-28, where he suggested that they “split the baby”). But there is another aspect of wisdom about which the Bible is very clear: wisdom is measured not only how someone gives out advice, but how he receives it.
There are a striking number of references to this in the book of Proverbs. This relates to our current theme of “helping to take the speck out of our brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). If you go back to the previous blog (Selflessness, Part 2), one of the situations mentioned was helping others take the speck out of their eye “where they are usually ready to listen to us.” In other words, they are willing to accept reproof. This is an indication that they are wise. Lets look at a few passages from Proverbs:
Proverbs 9:8 – Do not reprove a scoffer or he will hate you. Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
Proverbs 10:17 – He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.
Proverbs 13:18b – He who regards reproof will be honored.
Proverbs 15:5b – He who regards reproof is sensible.
Proverbs 15:10b – He who hates reproof will die.
Proverbs 15:31 – He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.
Proverbs 15: 32 - He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
As Jesus said in Matthew 7:5, the process of helping someone else see their speck starts with taking the log out of our own eye first. Living by the Scripture references above, and many others like it, is a good start. Are we ready to accept reproof ourselves? In other words, are we biblically wise?
One of the great blessings in life is to be able to go to someone, help him see a speck in his life, help him to take the speck out, and see a response of gratitude. Perhaps this is uncommon in today’s world, but it represents an example of a mature, godly, relationship, one to be cherished. It is a foundation of spiritual growth when we are open to what the other person has to say. But as always, we need to base that counsel, whether given or received, on the Scriptures and not on our own opinions or mere experience.
Helping someone who is wise see the speck in his eye is a much easier job, and will lead to a deepening relationship. As we go, we still need to heed all the biblical instruction on communication (“let your speech always be with grace,” as discussed in the last blog), but it is so much easier to go to someone who gratefully receives counsel than to one who is defensive and resists it.
It is also possible that we could wrongly perceive what is happening in his life. Those who receive our counsel are responsible to prayerfully evaluate it in the context of God’s Word and respond accordingly. But if they are wise, they will receive it graciously and determine before God what to do.
In next week’s blog, we will talk about how to discern the readiness of someone to accept our counsel about “the speck.” This is where it gets more difficult, but God has some very important instruction for us here as well.
As we prayerfully think about a response to today’s blog, let's ask the question: “If someone were to approach me to help me take the speck out my own eye, would they perceive me to be wise or foolish?”
The path to godly wisdom is very clearly laid out for us in the Scriptures. It is a transformational truth that involves selflessness. It honors the Lord and leads to great freedom in our relationship with others. May God help us in both our giving and receiving counsel.
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