The late Tom Landry, legendary football coach of the Dallas Cowboys, used to tell his players that the coach’s job is to teach grown men how to do what they don’t want to do in order for them to become what they’ve always wanted to become. Anyone who has gone through the rigors of training has no difficulty remembering the things they didn’t want to do that the coach required them to do. Many aspiring athletes have dreamed of holding the championship trophy but have had nightmares remembering the aching muscles, the torn ligaments, the endless repetitions, and the long hours on the treatment tables. There have been some whose natural talents were so huge that they thought they could make the grade on ability alone, only to discover that ability was not enough to carry them to the top.
So it is in life. Proverbs says, “Teach the wise, and they will be wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn more” (Prov. 9:9). The wise man is wise enough to know his own weaknesses, while the foolish man either refuses to acknowledge his faults or assumes he can succeed in life without paying attention to them. The wise man in his wisdom has learned so much that he recognizes how much there is to learn and how much he doesn’t know. By contrast, the foolish man either thinks he knows it all or assumes that he knows enough, and what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Wise men are open to correction; in fact, “the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more.” That is not the case with those who mock at learning: “Don’t bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you” (9:8).
Of course, wise men aren’t born wise. Somewhere they heeded and responded to the invitation, “Leave your foolish ways behind, and begin to live; learn how to be wise” (9:6). No doubt many of them had formerly subscribed to Folly’s enticements and believed, “Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best” (9:17). The adventure of eating forbidden fruit was so exhilarating, the joy of cutting corners to achieve easy results so smart, the dishonest practices that had outwitted the honest paid such rich dividends, that the foolish didn’t see the deadening of the soul, the downward spiral of character.
But where to start being smart? “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding” (9:10). Get to know the Lord, and you get to know yourself. In so doing, you learn how to learn and you never stop learning.
For Further Study: Proverbs 9:1-18
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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