“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
IT IS WISE FROM TIME TO TIME TO CHECK OUR BEARINGS AND MAKE SURE WE’RE HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. None of us has the perfect wisdom that would be necessary to live without “taking heed.” We need to reconsider our convictions and validate our principles. Paul said, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
One kind of pride is the pride of spiritual complacency, the contentment that sees no need to grow in our understanding or even check the accuracy of what we already know. It is easy to fall into this trap once we’ve traveled a little ways down the road of wisdom. When we look back and see what we’ve learned, it’s easy to forget how far we have yet to go. We seem to reach a point at which we feel no great need to move ahead.
But humility, not to mention reverence, indicates that we ought to be careful. Rarely are we ever doing so well that we don’t need to hear Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” And to the Ephesians he wrote, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15,16). The more difficult our environment, the more important it is to be circumspect concerning our relationship with God.
Frequently validating our principles is not a sign of paranoia; it’s a sign of prudence. Spiritual maturity knows the need for stability, but it also knows the need for caution. And if we’re too proud to be cautious, then we’re in a dangerous state. Paul wrote that “if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2). It is certainly not good to be driven here, there, and everywhere by the winds of popular dogma. But neither is it good to be so locked into our thinking that we can’t reevaluate it. There is a delicate balance between confidence in what we know and respect for what we don’t know. But if we intend ever to know more than we do right now, we’ll have to humble ourselves. The greatest impediment to new knowledge is overconfidence concerning our present knowledge.
“Caution is the eldest child of wisdom” (Victor Hugo).