“When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
When we see gray clouds we know a storm and rain are probably coming. Proverbs leads us to see other connections and correlations from other phenomena and make other important deductions. Just as if we see gray clouds we know rain is coming, if we see pride we know disgrace is coming.
Disgrace follows pride like dessert follows dinner; one comes then the other. Superiority then scandal, self-importance then shame. Disgrace follows pride as surely as two follows one. There’s a sequential relationship. If one is not humble there will be humiliation.
The prideful person, however, may not even see or experience the humiliation though. They may further puff up against the pain rather than confront their inadequacies.
The arrogant are in the dangerous place of not seeing their own ignorance. If we see ourselves as superior, we aren’t in a good place to see our own stupidity. Those who think they stand then should take heed lest they fall (1 Corinthian 10:12).
What is the solution? Humility.
We should be willing to admit we are sometimes wrong. We have done wrong and been wrong in the past, we should know that this could (and will) happen in the future too.
Christianity gives a basis for humility. It teaches us repeatedly that we don’t always get it right. And Jesus said, blessed are the humble who know that truth (See Matthew 5:5ff).
Christians should be willing to listen, willing to learn. We should be humble because our Lord Jesus has called us to humility. We don’t know it all and we should admit that truth.
“With the humble is wisdom.” Those who know they don’t know, are in a good place to know. If we realize what we don’t realize, we are open to realizing.
Pride → disgrace.
Humility → wisdom.
 Christian behavior is not based on knowledge alone, that leads to pride and destroys others, even those for whom Christ died; Christian behavior is based on love grounded in the knowledge of Christ. We tend to think we know all we need to know to answer all kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. As Eugene Peterson has said in his paraphrase of the Bible, the Message: “Knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings.” I appreciate what Richard Baxter said, “If we have any knowledge at all, we must needs know how much reason we have to be humble; and if we know more than others, we must know more reason than others to be humble” (The Reformed Pastor, 144). I also appreciate this from Thomas à Kempis: “What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? …I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God” and neighbor?” (The Imitation of Christ).
 Proverbs also tells us repeatedly that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
Thirty Thoughts Before Your Thirties
[[This is written to be especially applicable for high school graduates but the points apply to us all.]]
- Don’t forget about God and your personal convictions. You could gain the world, popularity and an inconceivably high GPA, but if you forfeit your soul it profits you nothing. In Jesus alone is there abundant life.
- Be in Christian community. Go to church. Read your Bible. Pray. Sing songs of praise to God.
- Talk to your pastor or spiritual mentor. Let them know when you have questions or are struggling with something.
- Have a personal development plan and record your goals and how you’re going to get there. And then do those things.
- Exercise. Just do it.
- Work ahead when possible.
- Do fun stuff but don’t be stupid. Always consider the possible consequences of your actions.
- Have fun but make the most of your time. For instance, maybe turn off Candy Crush and don’t binge-watch as much Sponge Bob, or whatever. Maybe even turn the Internet off every once and awhile. It’s won’t be gone forever, I promise.
- Have fun. Although it feels difficult these are probably the funniest and easiest years of your life.
- Build relationships. Build relationships with your peers but also with professors, advisors, and bosses. Network (but not just for the purpose of networking. Actually care about people). And meet new people, different people. Say hi to people that you normally wouldn’t say hi to.
- Explore your interests and abilities. As you consider the future, keep an open mind.
- Ask questions and ask for help (in all sorts of settings).
- Learn about finances. Make a budget. Learn about investing. Don’t take out a loan unless you really have to.
- Get there ten minutes early and leave ten after. Talk to your professor or boss and listen to the questions that your peers have.
- Stop your horrible habits now, don’t wait.
- Write things down (your schedule, thoughts, wishes, dreams, and the occasional poem). Your brain dumps its memory every night, your phone or notebook doesn’t.
- Ask questions. Interact with the content you’re being taught. Share your opinions (though, not in an obnoxious know-it-all way)
- Read the syllabus. Love the syllabus. Live and die by the syllabus.
- Call your parents and siblings (if you have them).
- Prioritize! Don’t procrastinate! If you prioritize well you have more room to procrastinate.
- Love learning for the sake of learning, not just for the grade. A love for learning will serve you better than your GPA.
- Chose your friends wisely.
- Chose your “special someone” wisely.
- Enjoy the work you do even if you don’t enjoy it.
- Remember one side sounds right until you hear the other. This is a proverb that holds true in all areas
- “I read it on the internet” doesn’t equal truth (even if you see the same thing in a few places).
- Relativism is actually harmful. Unless there is objective truth, the exhortation for people to be kind (e.g. planet care, respecting others, and not harming others) is subjective and relative to the whim of individuals (and thus doesn’t really need to be heeded).*
- Read books. Read blogs, read news articles, but let the biggest part of your diet be books, especially old books that have stood the test of time.
- Do your work. Your professor should know what they’re doing. So, do the work that they assign.
- Keep your own list. Remember what you have learned and pass it on.
*”To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis on which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights” (Timothy Snyder, *On Tyranny*).
True Knowledge Should Truly Humble
Knowledge is dangerous. Not only the consequence that ideas themselves have but also the tendency that knowledge has to puff up. Truths that should lay us low in humility often conflate our egos. Paradoxically, knowledge is also the very thing that humbles. We may not be proud without knowledge but neither will be humble. We will be ignorant. Knowledge is dangerous. Albeit, a necessary danger.
Knowledge is indispensable to live life rightly. We must understand though, that knowledge is not innate within us. It must be pursued. However, the very fact that knowledge is external should press us to pursue it in humility. It is not ours. We do not have the market on knowledge. Also, if we pursue it arrogantly we will miss much of it (Prov. 3:5-6; 15:14, 22). We should realize that not only is knowledge external from us but so is the desire for knowledge. We should not think we are better than the ignorant because our very desire for knowledge is itself a gift (James 1:17).
The desire for knowledge with the goal of being humbled is good. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and humility comes before honor (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Job 28:28). Jesus pronounces woes upon the Pharisees, not for their knowledge, their knowledge is commendable, but on the result that their knowledge had upon them. It did not humble them (Matt 23:5-7, 11-12). The publican had little knowledge but it served to humble him. If we truly understand, if the eyes of our hearts are enlightened, we will praise God and not ourselves. We can have all knowledge but if we have not love, it profits us nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Thomas A Kempis said in The Imitation of Christ that “On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.” That is not to say that knowledge is not important, it is. However, knowledge that does not lead to life change and humility is worthless and condemning. The person that knows the right thing to do and does not do it for that person it is sin (James 4:17). Kempis rightly says, “The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you.” God will judge us according to all that He has entrusted to us (see Matt. 25:14-30).
As our minds rise to exalted things, our consciousness of ourselves must fall. Truth humbles, or it is not understood to be truth to ourselves. Again Kempis says,
“What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? …I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?”
Knowledge is vital, we cannot serve or know the LORD without it, but knowledge must always humble.
How do we fight the damning affect that knowledge so often has? It all has to do with our motivation from the outset. As J.I. Packer has said, in his classic book Knowing God, “there can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge; but it is equally true that there can be no spiritual health with it, if it is sought for the wrong purpose.” Do we study the Trinity to be in awe and wonder before the God who is three-in-one? Or do we study the Trinity to look astute before our peers? The choices are not restricted to arrogance or ignorance but we have to fight for the last alternative, humility. If we go the way of ignorance we will never know humility, who or what would we be humbled before? And arrogance is the misapplication of knowledge. It is a pursuit of knowledge with the wrong goal in mind. Do we read science journals and Scripture to merely gain knowledge? Or do we do it to be humbled by the God that formed the furthest reaches of the galaxies and yet revealed Himself to us; yea, atoned for our sins (cf. Heb. 1:3)?
Pursue knowledge. Pursue it in whatever field. But do so in humble worship with your ultimate end being to glorify God. May we be amazed by and enraptured in the truths of Scripture as children. May we continually go to God humbly in awe of Him and His truth that is contained everywhere around us for God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
~Whatever you study or seek to know, do it all to the glory of God~
 I say “knowledge” and not any specific stream of knowledge because I believe that all truth is God’s truth. What I mean by knowledge is knowledge that is true, true truth, as Schaeffer put it. This could be in the realm of science, math, history, etc. All truth is God’s truth because God upholds the universe by the Word of His power thus all mathematical equations are held together by His hand. Science shows us the extent to which the glory of God is manifested in His universe (as Johannes Kepler said, “science is thinking God’s thoughts after Him”), all history is a story of God unfolding Himself and is actually a testimony of His grace to redeem such as we are.
 Richard Baxter rightly says, “If we have any knowledge at all, we must needs know how much reason we have to be humble; and if we know more than others, we must know more reason than others to be humble” (The Reformed Pastor, 144).
 J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 22. He further says, “if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited” (21). Rather “our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are” (23).