I was quietly reading my Bible when it happened. The words from a verse jumped off the page and smacked me. I had been reading from Proverbs 26, and things began okay — there were many verses about fools, what a fool does, what a fool is, and what happens to a fool. It wasn’t a pretty picture, but since I didn’t consider myself a fool, it wasn’t hard reading.
Then, right in the middle of the chapter, I came across these words: “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
The chapter continued talking about how bad a fool is, but I was stuck on that verse in the middle. Why? Because I am often wise in my own eyes, and God just told me in His Word that there is more hope for a fool than for me. Ugh.
God had already been convicting me about this through Romans 12:16: “Never be wise in your own eyes.” It is a simple phrase, with a bit of rhyme to it, and I knew it was something I needed to work on. It had been on the forefront of my mind when I saw the phrase again in Proverbs 26. This time, though, it had more of a punch to it. I realized I needed to do some serious contemplation.
I began a list in my journal with verses that included the phrase “wise in his eyes.” I was surprised to find how often it appears, all throughout the Bible. Here are a few examples:
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advise.” Proverbs 12:15
Among a list of 6 woes in Isaiah 5:21 we read, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:22
“The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.” Proverbs 26:16
“Let no man deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” I Corinthians 3:18-19
From contemplating these verses, we can learn that people who are wise in their eyes are fools, they are deceived about their true state, they are self-focused, and they get into trouble — not a pretty picture.
If people who think they are wise in their own eyes are deceived, how can we know if we are one of those proud people? If we are His children, then as we read His Word, God will bring conviction to us and help us see it in our own lives.
Here are some ways being wise in your own eyes can manifest itself:
- I interrupt others.
- I think about what I am going to say instead of listening well.
- I judge others.
- I justify myself.
- I think I know what others are thinking or what they are going to say.
- I don’t ask for advice.
- I don’t ask for forgiveness.
- I don’t consider another’s viewpoint or perspective.
- I think I have all the information I need.
- I think I’m right.
- I think my opinion is the best one.
- I insist on my way.
- I try and control things to make things happen my way.
When we act in these ways, our sin of pride harms our relationships with those around us and sets us in opposition to God (James 4:6, I Peter 5:5). Being wise in our own eyes — pride — is one of the list of things God hates from Proverbs 6. When we find ourselves doing things from that list above, even something that seems insignificant like interrupting, we must recognize it for the sin that it is and kill it. Interrupting is really saying that what I have to say is so much more important than what you are saying that I need to talk over you to say it. That’s arrogance and God hates it. Interrupting doesn’t seem so trivial now, does it?
Instead, we must put on the opposite of pride — humility. When we follow Christ’s example and become humble, instead of being a deceived fool, we become wise (Proverbs 11:2). Instead of thinking about ourselves, we think about others (Philippians 2). Instead of getting into trouble, we have relational peace and honor (Romans 12:16, Proverbs 29:23).
I encourage you to ask God to help you see if you are wise in your own eyes and when He opens your eyes to it, ask His forgiveness. Then seek to put off your pride and replace it with the opposite — humility. That’s being wise in God’s eyes.