“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15
In his own eyes – If you wanted to subvert the truth but you did not want to create confrontation, what strategy would you choose? If you were really clever, you would convince those who spoke the truth that their claims were only relative. In other words, you would persuade them that while they might be right from their point of view, other points of view were just as valid for other people. There really isn’t any absolutely true belief for all times and in all places. Truth depends on the circumstances. And, of course, we must be understanding of those who have a different viewpoint. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone, do we?
What happens when this strategy is successful? Truth becomes a branch of psychology. It no longer matters what is said as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Emotions are more valuable than ethics.
Solomon observes that those who disdain godly correction often take the position that the truth is flexible. If it looks right in their eyes, that’s good enough. The Hebrew be enayw is the equivalent of “I have my own opinion”. Today we call this by the politically correct term “tolerance”. Tolerance reduces ethics to emotions by eliminating a standard of correction. It’s how I feel, not what I do that matters most.
You don’t have to look far to find tolerance as the basis of behavior. Hollywood has made it a mantra. Political personalities carefully craft their words to make sure they sing the right song. Even churches stumble over offending others. On every side, we are taught to be socially embarrassed if we hold truth to be self-evident. We are an ethically homogenized culture. It’s a dangerous time. James Black’s book, The Death of Nations, makes it clear that no culture has yet survived the collapse of a standard of moral truth. Apparently, our culture believes it is the exception to the rule. But it is self-evident that God thinks otherwise. The God who was, who is and who will forever be does not have a “tolerance” view of the truth. He might be incredibly tolerant when it comes to withholding judgment, but that does not mean that He will never judge.
Solomon tells us that there is a way to know the standard and live by it. It doesn’t come from inside my own thinking. Yes, I must be rational. Yes, I must be critical. But the standard is not what I think it should be. It is found in the wise counsel of those outside me, the ones who do not look at the world with my eyes. Thinking that my way is always the right way is nothing more than blind arrogance. Even if it’s tolerant.