“Christians don’t get brownie points for being stupid.” So says Dr. Frank Turek, an author and founder of CrossExamined.org. The first-century Christian apostles would have wholeheartedly agreed.
What does it mean to be “stupid”? Well, King Solomon appears to answer that question in the book of Proverbs:
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge,
But he who hates correction is stupid.”
(Proverbs 12:1, NKJV)
The English transliteration of the Hebrew word behind “stupid” (NKJV, NIV, RSV, NLT, NASB, HCSB) is bā·‘ar. That word has also been rendered as “brutish” (KJV) and “foolish” (NLV). But I’m with the majority of English translations, I think “stupid” sums it up best.
According to Solomon, a stupid person is someone who does not value knowledge and is generally not open to correction.
The Bible is clear. Those who follow God are not supposed to turn off their brains or jettison logic and reason. On the contrary, God’s people are supposed to acquire knowledge and seek wisdom. We are to be thoughtful and discerning.
The entire book of Proverbs is about the importance of wisdom — not only in our daily living but in our relationship with God.
“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”
(Proverbs 4:7, NKJV)
Note Solomon calls wisdom “the principal thing” and says that, in all your “getting” (in other words, all the pursuing you do in your life), make sure you “get” wisdom.
“Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment,
But a man of understanding walks uprightly.”
(Proverbs 15:21, NKJV)
I find that phrase sobering: “destitute of discernment.” Yet does this not describe so many people today?
Calls for God’s people to seek out knowledge and to be wise and discerning are not limited to the book of Proverbs.
The Law of Moses emphasizes the importance of discernment in matters of justice:
“Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.”
(Exodus 23:8–9, NKJV)
The Psalms tell us that the “mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom” (Psalm 37:30, NKJV) and beseeches God to “teach us to number our days” in order that we may “gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV).
We see the same in the New Testament with our greatest example, Jesus, increasing in wisdom just as He grew physically (Luke 2:52).
Jesus’ half-brother, James, encourages us to ask God for wisdom:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
(James 1:5, NKJV)
The Apostle Paul told the church in Philippi:
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.”
(Philippians 1:9, NKJV)
How do we know if we’re abounding “in knowledge and all discernment”?
In school, there are quizzes, tests, and other assignments to determine whether we are growing in knowledge. Things are a bit more complicated in real life outside of the classroom.
People are wired and gifted differently. And each person must run his or her own race, and therefore it’s not appropriate for us to compare ourselves to other people.
Further, it’s a mistake to reduce the biblical call for knowledge acquisition and the pursuit of wisdom to be all about formal education credentials. I know many people who never went to college and yet, when it comes to wisdom (and, even in some cases, knowledge) can dance circles around men and women with advanced degrees.
Recall Proverbs 12:1 and ask yourself do you value knowledge and love learning? And are you open to correction?
Those are the key questions.
Those who appreciate the importance of knowledge and education, and who love to learn, and who are open to being corrected — such people fall into the category of wise, not stupid.
The key to wisdom is to stay close to God, to always be learning, and to remain open to constructive feedback (even correction) from qualified counsel.
Make learning and personal growth a priority in your life. Read books. Consider taking some classes. Learn new skills. Study. Exercise your mind. Connect with some mentors. Grow in knowledge and wisdom.
As Dr. Turek says, there are no brownie points for being foolish and ignorant.
Not with our Lord anyway.
God wants you to think. He wants you to be wise.