The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: But he that listens to counsel is wise. Proverbs 12:15
With misinformation campaigns in full swing and the dividing lines of society becoming more bold, the Information Age seems to be getting trickier to navigate on a day by day basis. It seems that we are always being propagandized from one side or the other. While opinions abound, truth is scarce. In this time, there is a need for less folly and more wisdom. Not only is this true on the national level, we need wisdom rather than folly as we seek to make decisions for ourselves. One of the most striking differences between a wise man and a fool has to do with their relationship to information outside their own views and opinions. The wise man checks and cross-checks, but not just information from external sources, but even from himself. One of the ways he does this is through listening to counsel—and counsel comes from elsewhere. Counsel comes from outside the self. This is why a wise man seeks counsel, and seeks it from multiple sources.
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: But in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
Now of course it is possible for someone to follow the externals of this proverb mindlessly, and not be seeking for true wisdom. Some foolish people go from counselor to counselor until they get the advice they wanted all along. One way to be sure to exasperate your trusted counselors is to always seek their advice but never heed their advice. And others think that is a matter of collecting multiple views and taking an average. But that doesn’t work either.
A Wise Man seeks Outside Counsel
It is as the old saying goes— “A man with a watch knows what time it is, and a man with three watches is never sure.”
No, a wise man seeks outside counsel, and he weighs and evaluates the options. He checks and he cross-checks. But the main thing he is guarding against is the temptation to be a fool, the one who is simply right in his own eyes. The fool’s views are right simply because they are his. So if one friend says one thing and another friend says another, you don’t split the difference. You think it through. But the main thing you are doing is guarding your own heart. The fool doesn’t need to go check anything. He knows how he feels already. What’s to check? This is the sin of subjectivism. This is the folly of using the thing that needs to be measured as the measuring rod itself.
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).