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Principle 22: Seek Counsel Wisely

In times gone by, men would gather at the gates of the city and engage in serious conversation.  It was a place of more than just meeting - it was a meeting of the minds.  Issues were settled there and wisdom was passed down.  The leaders of the city would often meet there to settle disputes, pass judgments on behalf of a wronged party, and just give insight into life decisions.  It was a place were "wisdom" was spoken and people left usually feeling pretty good about the things they had experienced.  At the gate of the city, a fool was not to be the one engaged in the conversations of giving advice or passing on a judgment for the wronged party.  Why?  They were clueless as the intent of the heart and this rendered them "useless" in making such decisions.  At the gate, they were to remain silent - for their "advice" would only muddle the matter.  In fact, they would often not even grasp the meaning of the conversations of the wise.  I wonder how much "foolish" conversation goes on in places of decision-making these days - especially since we don't have the "gates of the city" where wise leaders gather to hear the problems of the people?

Wise conversation is way over the head of fools; in a serious discussion they haven’t a clue.  (Proverbs 24:7 MSG)

Why is wise conversation over the heads of the fools?  There are probably innumerable reasons, but first and foremost, a fool thinks he knows truth - believing almost anything he hears and sees without really testing it to be sure it is the truth.  Imagine two mothers bringing one small infant to the gates with a fool sitting in the place of making the decision of who the real mother is of the infant.  He might believe the one who is crying the hardest, making the most impassioned plea, or even caressing the small life with tender hands is the "real" mother.  He judges by what he sees and hears, not by what wisdom would know.  A wise person would know the true mother would rather see her child live in the hands of someone else than to have the life of the child taken all together, so when Solomon was in the situation of determining this very decision, he simply predicted the revelation which would be apparent if he just told them to cut the child in two!  The true mother would not allow the child to die and would give over the child to the other woman.  In turn, it revealed the heart of the true mother.  Wisdom goes beyond seeing and hearing, to examining the heart.  How well does the fool examine the heart?  Not so well, I am afraid!

Another reason the fool is not able to engage in serious discussion is his unwillingness to really listen.  A fool already has an answer forming in his own head before the one speaking has a chance to finish, often missing some of the very detail which is necessary to really render any kind of a reliable or sensible decision.  Why?  The fool thinks he knows the answer - often based on some previous experience, what he has been told, read somewhere, etc.  It may not be tested and true, but he believes it to be what is needed to get by in the particular circumstance presented.  He formulates this in his mind and believes he knows what the determination should be - even without hearing the entire argument or heartfelt plea of another.  This is dangerous ground because in not listening, details are missed.  In being so determined you already know the answer, you shut down conversation.  In getting the cart before the horse, you have a miserable journey indeed!

The wise will learn not to rely upon the foolish for their wisdom, but rather will take the time and effort to seek wise counsel.  The conversation of the fool is his undoing - it reveals the truth about the lack of depth of his heart and his unwillingness to learn in this life.  The wise will not engage a fool in decision-making because they know decision based solely on what one believes because of past experience or simply because someone else did something a certain way is not the most reliable source of information. Experience plays a big part in our decision-making process, doesn't it?  To rely solely upon experience is dangerous - for not all experience validates truth. For example, if we stop to buy a scratch off ticket from the lottery machine today and pay one dollar for it, finding we win five dollars after scratching off all that silver goo, can we trust that each and every scratch off ticket will produce the same results.  It would be foolish to count on the "odds" being consistently in our favor, wouldn't it?  Yet, the fool will hold onto this hope based on this one experience.  The "it could happen" faith he has is really not faith, just misplaced hope!

So, when engaging in conversation about important life decisions, go to the wise.  Their source of wisdom comes from a deep well - not from the misplaced hopes and imaginations of the mind of a fool!  Just sayin!

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