A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.
What good men think about you is important. It is a better measure than what you think. Wisdom will bring you honor. Folly will cause them to despise you. It is a daily choice. How much praise do good men give you for your wisdom? That is how much you deserve. Or do they despise you for a foolish approach to life? That is what you deserve.
Praise by good men is good, and it should be sought (Pr 3:3-4; 22:1; 27:2). The sure way to earn their praise is by wisdom – the ability of good judgment. But a perverse person, who thinks, speaks, and acts wrongly, will be despised. The choice is yours. Which are you? Which will you be? Commended or despised? You can change your reputation.
You do not care what others think? Not even good men? Then you are a fool! God’s word strictly teaches that good men will identify and praise wise persons, and they will identify and despise persons with perverse hearts. You cannot be wise and hide it from good men, and you cannot be perverse and hide it either (Pr 14:7; 27:15-16; Eccl 10:3).
The opinion of fools does not matter, so what the world thinks is worthless. In fact, if the world loves you, that is evidence you are abominable in God’s sight (Lu 16:15). You should want current culture to despise you. Good men are the only ones with the wisdom to perceive wisdom, so only consider their evaluations and the commendations they give.
A man’s rank and reputation depend on his wisdom. Godly men only give acceptance and approval to those with wisdom. Jesus grew in favor with God and men, and we are told it resulted from his growth in wisdom (Luke 2:52). Godly men will make this difference in other men known, for they are ordered to identify both (Ps 37:37; Rom 16:17; Phil 3:17).
What is wisdom? It is the power of right judgment – the ability to know what to do in a variety of conditions. A man with it sees a situation and responds in the godly way God expects and defines in the Bible. He has knowledge and understanding; he is discreet and prudent; he is foresightful and circumspect; he is fair and kind; he exalts mercy and truth.
What is a perverse heart? It is the motives in a man that neither fears nor loves God; he has no desire or regard for godliness or holiness. Proud and selfish thinking causes him to choose contrary, unreasonable, and wrong courses of action. He is ignorant of wisdom; he is obstinate, foolish, impulsive, irritating, and offensive. He is obnoxious to good men.
Men either commend or despise you. You are either perceived as wise or foolish. There is little middle ground. Your reputation is either in the direction of wisdom or perversity. Good men have opinions, and they disclose them. They will honor, promote, and seek persons with wise speech and conduct. They will avoid, neglect, and reject fools. Part of wise self-examination is to soberly and honestly consider what good men think of you.
Do not deceive yourself. Do good men seek you, praise you, and promote you? Or do they avoid you, neglect you, and reject you? The difference is obvious, though it may be painful. Forget your family – they cannot or will not tell you the truth in order to preserve domestic tranquility. Furthermore, forget your own thoughts, for your deceitful heart will lie to you against the ugly truth of reality. What do good men really think of you?
Do godly men enjoy you, or endure you? Seek you, or avoid you? There is a simple solution. Take hope. Grasp another aspect of the lesson here: wisdom works! In addition to many other benefits of wisdom, it will raise your rank and reputation among good men. If you need wisdom, it is freely offered in the book of Proverbs and the rest of the Bible. Opportunity is before you, if you will only read and learn. Run with it!
Intelligence is not the issue. Education does not matter. Good men do not care if you befriend them, do them favors, flatter them, give gifts, or have exceptional abilities. All that matters to them is wisdom. How do you get it? It starts by fearing GOD Jehovah, and then you add His commandments and hatred of evil (Pr 1:7; 8:13; 9:10; 16:6). Simple! Avoid even a little folly, for it can quickly cause your wisdom to stink (Ec 10:1).
Nabal was churlish and evil; even his name meant fool: his noble wife used it to explain his perverse conduct, and she called him a man of Belial (I Sam 25:25). His own servants said it was impossible to even talk to him (I Sam 25:17). He was despised by everyone who knew him, and though Abigail stopped David from killing him, God did it Himself.
David was far better than Nabal. Though that perverse man despised him, the rest of the nation set David’s name up high, for he behaved himself more wisely than anyone else in King Saul’s government (I Sam 18:30). Even Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly loved David. Though crown prince of Israel, he covenanted with David to be his right hand man!
Consider Jesus Christ, the Son of David. He was greater than David as the light of the sun excels that of the moon. He had all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). When the Jews sent officers to arrest Him, they returned without Him, explaining, “Never man spake like this man” (Jn 7:45-46). Even His enemies commended Him for wisdom.
Now get this! A day is coming soon, when the Lord Jesus Christ will judge all men. He will examine your life, and nothing will be hid. He will commend some and despise others. Wise persons that obeyed Him will hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21). Those with foolish hearts and lives will hear, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt 7:23). Heaven or hell will be the difference!