The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15 NASB
This is a particularly painful proverb for me this morning. I am such a fool! I have so many blind spots in my own life. In my dreams last night it was as though I had a movie running of all of the missteps and failures I’ve experienced in a particular circumstance over the past several years, yet at the time, I marched ahead as though there was no other way to approach the situation. Yet, I don’t know what I don’t know. Every person lives from his or her own perspective and experiences, and from my view I am right, but my view is not a complete picture. There is always another view. If I were to have the opportunity to go back and “do over” I suppose I would not do anything differently today, except have a deeper sense of humility and a recognition that blind spots are just that — I don’t see them. I would spend more time trying to understand why you think the way you do and not react emotionally or defensively. And I would double my efforts to love and respect, even if I don’t appreciate the other’s behavior. They too have blind spots and I desire to treat others the way that I’d like to be treated. A fool is not a fool for his differences with another, but rather, for allowing a multiplication of those differences into a posture of incompatibility, alienation, or worse, conflict and killing (whether in real life or in my heart). I kill someone as soon as I cease to acknowledge them in my heart.
Does this blindness make me a fool? In my heart I know I’m my Father’s child and His and my goal is to be transformed into His image and likeness. Until then, or while this process is taking place, I accept that there are foolish things within. My own “right-ness.” So today I invite wisdom and pray that when I step on the scales the predominance of my person and perspective tip in that direction.
The heart of the fool is that of narrowness, limited perspective, quick judgement when not all sides have offered their version or perspective. Foolishness is magnified when based on that limited view, I make decisions that affect others negatively and put something in motion that is insensitive, hurtful, damaging, ignorant… and I could go on. Foolishness has no end to its effect. At its core, it elevates my way above another’s even though in the other person’s eyes, their way is just as valid. What a sticky mess!
But I love the remedy: counsel. The Hebrew interprets it as advice, counsel, advisement and some translate it designs, schemes, strategies. The idea is that there is purpose, collaboration, ideas coming together to bring the best possible outcome. I find it interesting that of all creatures on earth, man has the unique requirement to learn, to be taught or shown how to do something. And I find that in the very act of learning we show our love for our creator. The fact that I am teachable, open to wisdom and counsel, have a heart that wants to know the right thing to do or say, says much about my values and who I am. And it’s a predictor of who I will become. And along these lines, look at the many sources our wise teacher gives us — I’m meditating in Proverbs! He’s a wise and wonderful counselor. He’s put teachers in his church. And he’s given us a promise that if any lack wisdom I simply need to ask for it and he gives it liberally. I have many “counselors” at my disposal:
The counsel of circumstances
When you shoot a basketball, the swoosh through the hoop tells me whether my aim is on or off. When I grow flowers in my garden, the full blooms tell me when I have soil, sunlight, and supply just right. When my car careens off the road or into another vehicle, the sound of twisted metal tells me something has gone wrong. Life, and the good or bad that comes from it, is communicating something to me. Let my circumstances speak to me. The Holy Spirit is very good about pointing out what I need to hear.
The counsel of the Holy Spirit
There are so many benefits to being filled with the Holy Spirit — a quick read of John 14-16 and I am so heartened by what my Father gives me in His infilling presence. The Spirit of Jesus within is the ultimate “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6).
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26 NASB
The counsel of friends and others
When I read “listens to counsel” the first fulfillment in my mind is another person who is in the role of a trained counselor. Although I don’t believe people are our only source, they are possibly the intended target of Solomon, and an incredible resource. The body of Christ, my family, those close to me, all speak wisdom and counsel into my life. But I must ask for input, be open to it, recognize it for the gift that it is even when it’s hard to hear.
The disposition of listening to counsel — no matter the source — invites wisdom. Even so, I am thankful that Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith. He’s the one that wants to speak to me and fellowship with me. It’s when I recognize and hear his voice in prayer, in others, in circumstances, and in natural results, that I find real counsel.