Another Thing All Wise People Do

The second of a two-part article. Read part one here: Two Things All Wise People Do.

Joseph Chan

We learned last month that one defining characteristic of the wise is that they continually seek out more wisdom. They do so because it is the wise thing to do. While this seems kind of like a catch-22how do the unwise ever become wise?it makes sense if you think about it. As one increases in knowledge, he or she recognizes its value and therefore pursues even more of it.

The second aspect held in common among the wise is that they acknowledge the source of wisdom. And such an acknowledgement yields the humble admission that knowledge doesn't originate within themselves.

In the seventh verse of Proverbs, Solomon said as much with his thesis statement for both the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. He wrote, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

In essence he's claiming true wisdom comes from God, just as his did.

This claim here that God is our source, our starting point, for wisdom is what sets Proverbs apart from other wisdom literature of the ancient near east. While scholars have uncovered writings very similar to some of the proverbs in the Bible, Solomon's thesis here lends a uniqueness not found anywhere else.

Now, I know you might object to this claim that all wise people fear the God of the Bible and accept him as the origin for knowledge. After all, aren't people like Gandhi and Confucius famous for the wisdom they possessed? And yet neither one ascribed to belief in the Judeo-Christian God.

Fair point.

In response, I would respond with the cliché (yet true) statement that all truth is God's truth. In other words any objective truths one can arrive at originates with the Creator. Take, for example, this famous quotation of Gandhi's: “The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.”[1]

Pretty insightful quotation, isn't it? But if it sounds familiar, your mind might hearken, as mine did, to one of Christ's teachings, "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant" (Mark 10:43). Or another, "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31).

Jesus said words very similar to those in the above Gandhi quotation almost two millennia prior. This is in no way a claim that the Indian activist plagiarized Jesus, but rather that anything objectively true is true regardless of who arrives at it or by what method because God is the source of all knowledge and wisdom.

Nevertheless those who are ignorant of the source of knowledge arrive at wisdom thirdhand. That doesn't mean they're not smart or that they don't do wise things or live wise lives. Instead they learned these things by osmosis, by example, or by hard knocks.

But gaining wisdom in this manner is a bit like playing the game Telephone. If you've never played it, I need to speak with your kindergarten teacher. Here's how it goes: sit in a circle with your friends. The first person whispers a phrase into the ear of the person on her left. The recipient of the phrase then whispers it into the ear of the person on his left, and so on until the message is delivered to the very last person. Said student speaks aloud the phrase he received.

By the time the words reach the last student they are comically distorted. They may sound like the original in cadence, but rarely does the original phrase reach the end unmolested.

This is why Solomon argued that the fear of Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Those who go to the source will receive pure, untainted wisdom.

How do we do that? You know the Sunday School answers: prayer, reading the Bible, and hanging out with godly people. Engaging in healthy spiritual habits will yield a harvest of wisdom. And in fearing the Lord we also exhibit humility in acknowledging that wisdom doesn't originate with us.

By the way, Proverbs 1 is just one of the chapters included in my Old Testament reading guide.

If you're interested, you can get your own copy for free here:

Stop Getting Stuck at Leviticus


1. “15 Inspiring Gandhi Quotes,” Biography, A&E, October 1, 2020,


  1. I found that really interesting and it totally makes sense, thanks Andrew, for sharing God's wisdom.