Monday, November 9, 2009

Actions of a Wise Man

Rwanda has a heavy respect based culture.  Sure, this can be abused and lead to a superiority complex in some, but the concept is good.  It plays out in many aspects of life, like the way people shake hands (looking down and slightly bowing) or hold a conversation (always waiting for others to finish - not rushing to interrupt someone).

This morning I read from an ancient Jewish text called The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan.  In it is a description of a wise man:

Seven qualities characterize the wise man: 

  1. He does not speak before him that is greater than he in wisdom or in age.
  2. He does not break into his fellow's speech.
  3. He is not in a rush to reply.
  4. He asks what is relevant and replies to the point.
  5. He speaks of first things first and of last things last.
  6. Of what he has not heard he says:  "I have not heard," and is not ashamed (to admit it).
  7. And he acknowledges what is true. 
A few comments:  

Over the last year I've tried to be intentional to follow #5.  Many are guilty of answering questions that no one is asking - or of merely rambling on about something to display your knowledge, rather than actually answering the question.  This has been a challenge for me and I'm praying for growth.

Also, related to #6, the Lord provided some amazing examples for me in the form of a professor and two fellow students in Phoenix.  All three of these men are incredibly bright and have a wealth of knowledge, yet they were never ashamed to admit ignorance of a matter.  They were hungry to learn and for that I am grateful.  A weak, insecure man (i.e. myself for many years) is afraid to admit ignorance, because he is more concerned about appearing wise than actually being wise. 

May we seek knowledge and hunger for wisdom, so that we may hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt 5.6)!


jgb said...

One thing I immediately noted about this list is that each is exemplified in one's words (or lack thereof).

Proverbs and James come to mind as the two places in Scripture which most prominently speak about our tongue. Biblical wisdom certainly is not less than control of our tongue, but it is more. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of such wisdom.

It seems to me the character quality that binds the author's points together is humility. I can think of no better place to start pursuing humility than to explore its parent - love. After all, it is love that does not boast, is not arrogant, is not rude, does not insist on its own way, rejoices in the truth, is patient, and kind.

Good post. Nicely thought provoking on a Monday morning.

John and Pam Majors said...

Very good points. A good list to live by.