Proverbs 15:7 ESV
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.
If a wise man’s lips spread knowledge, and we desire to be wise, we must choose to follow the course of the wise man and spread knowledge. We must not be like the fool, whose heart hides what he knows and spread what he does not. This verse is a description of the truth of a wise man’s existence, and because wisdom is the right aspiration of every Christian, we should seek to understand the fulfill this description.
What is the knowledge which we are to spread? It comes in many parts. We can obviously dispose of the idea that the knowledge is deceptive, malicious, or harmful. In the most neutral sense of the term, as English uses it, knowledge can refer to falsities (such as the ‘wisdom’ of Job’s friends), to that which is intended to grieve (say, an unnecessarily graphic description of a loved one’s death), to that which unnecessarily tempts to sin (pornography, for instance). To spread such, however, would be wrong and therefore out of the path of wisdom, not being consonant with the ‘fear of the Lord’ which is wisdom’s base (Prov. 1:7; 9;10). Thus, this knowledge must be to the good of the one receiving.
With this established, we can divide that which remains into three parts: fact, human wisdom, and wisdom towards God. The first category is the simplest, being simply the truth regarding what physically is. It’s a start, but it’s far from enough. The second category is more complex. In the second category is the wisdom of how to understand oneself and one’s fellow man, how to interact with him, how to see and understand the world of men. The third category is wisdom towards God. This is knowledge of the Gospel and of Him, knowledge which points towards Him and towards a better relationship with Him. This knowledge is good counsel for eternal life.
In all these categories, though, we must maintain three essential guards upon ourselves: humility, love for neighbor, and right regard for God. The first, humility, is not merely self-deprecation. Humility is being truthful in understanding yourself and in communicating that understanding. It means acknowledging when acknowledging when you don’t have all the facts, advising another counselor when you do not understand man sufficiently to aid (as well as knowing when you’re not enough), and being clear both to yourself and to the one you counsel that in the affairs of God all men are but novices (and I blessed rather than great, where I may speak) and that the greatest councilor is God and His word. Humility requires us to recognize when the knowledge we would spread is not enough, when the knowledge ought not to be ‘listen to what I say’ but ‘listen to what he says’ or ‘listen to what God says’.
The other two guards flow naturally from the Greatest Commandment, given by Christ in Matthew 22:36-40, to love the Lord our God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This love for neighbor (being the lesser, I will take it first) means that we spread knowledge not to show our own wisdom or to aggrandize ourselves or to make ourselves wise in our eyes, for that would be foolishness, but for the sake of the one we counsel. Love for my neighbor rises from a perpetual remembrance that he is made in the image of God just as I am, that he may be, if God wills it, an eternal child of God (Gen. 1:27; John 17:3). It is for this reason that we can declare the good news of the Gospel to the unwilling sinner, calling him to repent and believe, and that we can do so in full expectation that God will use the seed He planted through us, whether to the hearer’s salvation or perdition it is His glory to decide.
As for our love for Him, that love is to be the uniting theme of our lives, and here it is no different. We are to love Him in heart and soul and strength, and therefore we must speak to honor and love Him. To love God is a comprehensive demand on our lives, sovereign if it were perfect over all that we are, do, think, feel, and say. It is out of love for Him that we love His image, the men and women we meet; it is out of love for Him that we share His glory, the Gospel of Christ.
This command must mean something in daily life. It means that we must not hide the truth of God from those about us. We must be wise, of course, in declaring Christ. We are to be ‘wise as serpents’; we are to be ‘gentle as doves’. So spreading the greatest wisdom of all, the news of the incarnation of Wisdom Himself (Prov. 8:22-31), should not be a task we enter without care and thought. We can’t just get on a loudspeaker and hope for the best. This requires preparation. Another dimension exists, though. When we are asked, when we are given the chance to speak the truth or be silent, we cannot easily be quiet. When we are asked to repeat foolishness, to call ‘he’ ‘she’ or to worship the idols of the current culture (government, popular opinion, self, emotion, equality, freedom, etc.), we must not be silent. We must speak, not out of anger but out of love and with boldness, knowing that we who speak His truth will be hated by the world but it matters not in the light of His eternal blessing.
I’m going to be working on it too.
Written by Colson Potter
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.