“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.” ~ Proverbs 14:16
It is important that we do not allow ourselves to be swayed by people who appear to be knowledgeable just because they argue their points confidently.
Here is a simple example:
Those who are old enough can remember when those who “knew” confidently told everyone that butter was bad so we should use margarine instead. Then in the 1990’s we were told with equal confidence again by those who “knew” that margarine was bad, eat butter instead. Lately, we have been told, yet again by those who “know”, that “it depends”…
To be clear, knowledge does increase; we learn new things everyday. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with changing our minds as we get new information. The issue here is the certainty expressed by those who claim to be knowledgeable, the confidence shown by those who claim to know.
Human history should teach us humility: what we think is true, from a totally humanistic perspective, often turns out to be just the opposite. Only God has perfect understanding, only God has complete knowledge so we should look to Him for truth and not to ourselves. Accordingly, we should recognize how frail, how uncertain, our own understanding is and not place our confidence in it.
Here is a more serious example:
Those who “know” tell us that sex outside of marriage is okay, as long as those involved are consenting adults: do it if it makes you happy, they say. Likewise, those who “know” tell us that divorce is okay in any and all circumstances: if your marriage is unhappy, you are not obligated to work things out: divorce if it makes you happy, they say.
However, societies that have embraced these principles have experienced an ever growing incidence of single parent families, which those who “know” also say are unhealthy (or at least not the best situation) for children. (Statistics show that children raised in single parent families generally experience a higher incidence of abuse, have lower scholastic achievement and higher juvenile delinquency compared to children of two parent families. [1, 2, 3])
So, after following the advice of those who “know”, they then tell us that we end up hurting our children. Hmmm… maybe we should be careful about following the
badvice of those in the “know”.
Clearly, it is not the confidence/certainty with which an assertion is made that matters. Rather, it is the truth of a statement that is important. The wise man fears (respects, reveres, and lives in awe of) God. He looks to God for truth. So the wise man finds out what God says in His Word about life, about good and evil. And then the wise man does the good and departs from evil.
Conversely, the fool does not fear (respect, revere, and live in awe of) God. So the fool goes his own way confidently walking in his own self-determined truth.
Let us avoid being fools ourselves: let us learn to fear (respect, revere, and live in awe of) God which is how we begin to learn true wisdom. And let us not be duped by fools, those who have no respect for God, just because they speak with confidence.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” ~ Psalm 111:10
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” ~ Proverbs 1:7
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” ~ Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” ~ Proverbs 15:33