There are so many scriptures you overlook. But, might this be the scripture you most disobey?
Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Romans 12.16
You might not fully understand what St. Paul is saying here, but it seems he’s at least telling you not to equate your opinion with wisdom. Don’t think that wisdom resides in your opinion. Don’t believe that your opinions are really wise. Don’t think highly of your opinions. You’re not as wise as you think. Get off the high horse of your own ideas. Let humility govern everything, most notably your speech. More on this later.
This echoes the wisdom given in Proverbs 3.5, 7: Do not lean on your own understanding…Be not wise in your own eyes.
Again, a wise person does not trust his own mind. Do not perceive yourself as having insight or “smarts.” Earning a Ph.D. does not make you wise. True wisdom is found outside yourself in the person of Jesus Christ who is Wisdom
There’s probably no area of life where you don’t have some kind of opinion, even when you try hard to be neutral.
- the Bible
- driving, i.e. other drivers
- politics (ugh!)
But here’s the thing…who freakin’ cares about your opinion? Really! Why do you put so much weight on your ideas? Why do you think your opinions are so important and add perspective to a conversation?
“Opinion” is really “self-professed truth.” You think something is true or factual, but it’s only your own thought, perception, or belief. “That’s good and that’s bad.” “That’s right and that’s wrong.” “That person is an idiot or drives like one.” “This ________ is better than that _________.”
For decades you thought certain ideas were correct only to discover that you were misinformed or that you judged out of a skewed mindset. For example, what you once thought was “biblical” – e.g. drinking wine is a sin or Christ died only for the elect – was only an opinion you developed by reading other opinions you deemed to be correct. You were the interpreter and judge; your intelligence and reasoning being the gatekeeper of what was true or not. The process was all about you getting it right. You were “fully convinced” of your views. Now you know you were not. There are many examples of your “conviction” being changed by exposure to reality.
So, why don’t you simply stop trusting your worthless opinions while focusing your attention on ideas that really matter? Ha ha! What really matters might be categorized as an opinion as well, right? But, isn’t there some kind of hierarchy of ideas? Ideas such as: God’s existence, the purpose of life, who/what has authority, Jesus’s identity and teachings, the Church, the Trinity, beauty, truth, life in Christ, the Scriptures, relationships, and death seem to be of greater significance than your paltry opinions about pretty much everything else. Of course, your opinions about the ideas just listed don’t really matter either. The truth about these ideas matters. But, you have a really hard time discerning what is true.
In Romans 12.16, St. Paul is addressing more than just “opinion.” The statement applies to all your ideas, perceptions, or your mindset. In other words, don’t see yourself as wise – a person with insight who can be trusted.
The sentence has been translated as:
Become not wise with yourselves.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Do not be conceited.
Do not claim to be wiser than you are.
This is a succinct statement of St. Paul’s thoughts presented in 1 Corinthians 3.3:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,
but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
And in 1 Corinthians 3.18-20:
Let no one deceive himself.
If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
It’s humbling to become a fool. People make fun of simple folks. Being illogical and unreasonable equates with being crazy or weird. Yet St. Paul says that as an apostle, he is a fool for Christ’s sake (1 Corinthians 4.10).
Speaking intelligently or reasonably, having the answers, and offering profound insight elevates you in the eyes of your friends. Everything must make sense. This is how you’ve operated for decades. You want to be seen as wise and respected for your insightfulness.
Yet, you will never become wise if you’re proud of your own thoughts and ideas. The way to real wisdom is to follow the path of foolishness.
On the road to humility, become a fool. See yourself as in kindergarten, always in need of further instruction, never fully grasping reality, open to mystery, and continuously seeking Truth.
Jesus Christ is Wisdom. You are not. Trust Him, not your opinions.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Jesus Christ is Truth. You are not. Trust Him, not your version of truth.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
As you grow in union with Christ, your reliance on your own opinions will lessen and your faithfulness to Christ-Truth will increase. Thanks be to God!