Do not be wise in your own eyes (Prov 3:7)

by Steven Chan
20 June 2010

There’s always the danger of personal pride that causes one to stray from the Lord. We are warned against personal pride in Prov 3:5-7 when the Bible exhorts us thus: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.” In Prov 26:12, the Bible further observes thus: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

In Rom 11:25, the apostle Paul wrote thus: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion …,” The implication is that the failure to understand the will of God in such a matter may lead one to rely on one’s own wisdom to speculate and indulge in so-called self-discovery of new truths and be puffed up one against another: 1 Cor 4:6-8: “that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf on one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” The rhetorical question posed by the apostle Paul is worth noting: “And what do you have that you did not receive?” There are some Bible students who incessantly condemn others for following so called “inherited dogmas” or “teachings received from others” – while they claim that their teachings are unique as if it is their own discovery and they did not learn them from someone else or alternatively because it is their own discovery that they must be right.

Oftentimes, these very students quote at length from their other teachers but they are blinded to the fact that they have actually imbibed from the teachings of others—almost hook line and sinker. Alternatively they think that their own wisdom has enabled them to discover their own truths. Thus they are lured from the truth of God’s simple revelation because of their own vain glory.

God in His wisdom has chosen for the truth to be taught to others via faithful men: 2 Tim 2:2: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
There’s nothing wrong in learning from others so long as their teachings are consistent with God’s word. That’s why the Christians in Berea were commended in Acts 17:11: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” They received the teachings but they also searched the Scriptures to see whether the things taught are so. Let us not be so filled with pride that we stray away from “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor 11:3).