The Servant’s Opportunity
“When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
PRIDE IS THE ARCHENEMY OF WISDOM. For that reason, anything that stirs up our sense of pride and self-sufficiency is something that will HINDER our wisdom, while those things that humble us and remind us of our dependence on God are those that INCREASE our wisdom. Whatever increases pride, contributes to foolishness.
Ironically, even our learning can get in the way of our wisdom! The more we learn and the wiser we think we are in comparison to ordinary people, the less wise we become in actual fact. Paul wrote, “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2). And he advised, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18). Charles Haddon Spurgeon caught this insight with a vivid metaphor: “The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.”
We tend to think that wisdom is the thing that enables people to “climb the ladder” in this life. Thus we generally expect the “master” to be a wiser person than his “servant.” If it wasn’t by working smarter as well as harder, how did he get to be the master in the first place? There may well be some truth to that, but whatever may be wisdom’s role in ENABLING people to climb the ladder, it’s still a fact that the higher we go, the harder it is to HOLD ON to our wisdom. The servant has some obvious disadvantages, but he does have one thing going for him: he has a better chance than his master to LEARN from life, simply because the humbler circumstances of life are those from which we can learn the most (Deuteronomy 8:3). Not only that, the humbler circumstances are those that keep us in a more open and teachable frame of mind.
In Ecclesiastes, there is this relevant observation: “Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more” (Ecclesiastes 4:13). If wisdom is a priority with us, let us be careful about the things we aspire to in this old world. Wisdom comes from washing the feet of others, not from having our own feet washed by others.