Wise Or Otherwise Romans 12:16

Be not wise in your own conceits—Rom_12:16.

The other day I visited a farmyard. Near the barn a mother hen was clucking softly to a fine brood of chickens as she taught them to pick up seeds of grain. In the mill-pond a few young ducklings were enjoying their first lessons in swimming. But up and down before the farmhouse strutted a large turkey. His tail was well spread out, and he thought himself a very fine fellow indeed; but when he spoke his voice was by no means musical, and as he swaggered along I thought, “Poor old man, you imagine the place belongs to you and that you are the most important person on the farm, but you’ll be sadly disillusioned when you find yourself in a pot next Christmas!”

Perhaps you may think it is a funny thing to get a text from a turkey, but that silly young bird really gave me a text, so he has done some good after all, besides providing somebody’s future Christmas dinner. “Conceited as a turkey-rooster,” we say, and then the words that St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome came into my mind—“Be not wise in your own conceits.” The Greek words just mean, “Be not wise at your own bar,” that is, the bar of your own judgment.

Don’t be too pleased with yourself. Don’t think that you are always right and that you know everything that is worth knowing. In other words, don’t have too good an opinion of yourself.
Now please notice carefully that I didn’t say, “Don’t have a good opinion of yourself,” but, “Don’t have too good an opinion of yourself.” It’s not at all a bad thing to have a good opinion of ourselves, to have a just pride in ourselves. The boys and girls who have the right kind of pride will be kept from doing many mean and unworthy things. But having too good an opinion of ourselves is another matter. It means puffing ourselves up to believe that we are what we are not, that we know everything when we know next to nothing; and if we only think of it, it makes us look just as ludicrous as that silly turkey in the farmyard.

I am going to give you three reasons why we should not be wise in our own conceits, and I shall give you the least good reason first and end with the best.

The first reason is, that we shall get ourselves disliked. There is no more detested person than the one who thinks he knows much better, or is much better, than anybody else, and that everybody else who thinks differently is wrong. A wise Chinese writer once said, “Be strictly correct yourself; but do not cut and carve other people.” If all the flowers were the same color the world would be a very uninteresting place, and if everybody thought alike it would be a very dull one. Certainly have your own opinion, but always give the other boy the right to hold his, and be ready to own sometimes that he is right and you are wrong.

And the second reason is, that if we are wise in our own conceits it will hinder us from learning. It is
an unusual thing, but you will find as you go through the world that the people who know most are generally those who think they know least. And the reason is that they are the people who have found out how much there really is to know. A great pianist feels how difficult it is to do justice to the beauty of the music he is playing, a great artist how impossible to represent all the beauty he sees.
Once a cardinal was walking in one of the streets of Rome and he met an old bent man trudging along in the snow. “Where are you going,” said the cardinal. “To the school of sculpture,” replied the other. The old man was none other than Michael Angelo, the famous sculptor who carved some of the most beautiful statues in the world. Yet, though he could teach the world, he was ready to be taught.
So don’t be ashamed to learn. It’s the people who recognize their ignorance who make progress. Every day we live in this wonderful world there is something new to learn, if we keep our minds open to receive it.

And don’t think you know better than people who have lived half a century. Your father and mother may not be so well able as you are to conjugate a Latin verb or translate a French sentence, but they know a great deal more of the things that are really worth knowing, and you will never regret it later, if you respect their opinions now.

But the last reason is the biggest, and though you forget the others try to remember this one. “Be not wise in your own conceits,” because pride and self conceit keep us away from Christ. It was pride that kept the Jews away from Christ. They thought they knew so much better than He did, and they would not listen to His message. And it is pride that may keep us away from Him too. He does not ask that those who come to Him should be good or wise, but if we wish to be His disciples we must lay ourselves like little children at His feet, knowing nothing, trusting not in our own goodness or power. Then He will lift us up and give us the knowledge that is true wisdom, the love that is true strength.

James Hastings' Children's Great Texts Of The Bible - This material seems appropriate for children ages 8-12.  Like the Great Texts Of The Bible (For Adults), this series examines the Great Texts of the Bible, but from a child's perspective. Each section begins with a scripture, and Hastings uses illustrations to relate the meaning of the passage for a child's life.  Hastings focuses on practical lessons and the moral of the story that children might apply to their lives. Because Hastings studied the classics as an undergraduate, many sections include classic poems and classic literature quotes.

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