Quotations are fun, engaging, educational, and sometimes communicate a particular concept perfectly without having to think up something pithy myself. Some days are pithy days, some days just aren’t.
I’ve been thinking a lot about wisdom lately. The idea of adding a quotation to what I’d already written about wisdom in a new book led me to the Brainy Quotes website to select just the right one. I found a quote that seamlessly knitted my thoughts with one of Aldous Huxley’s.
To me, quotes are like a buffet of my favorite foods. As I browsed the offering today I found a great comment by Confucius that applies perfectly to horse training – so I shared it on social media.
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
Confucius would have made a great horse trainer. [See Note below. *] No problem sharing that one. Before I added the Huxley’s quote to the manuscript I checked out his bio. He seemed a good egg and I have no problem sharing this wise comment in the new book.
“Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley
As I continued to taste the quote fare I found this somewhat disturbing one. It struck me as being just a bit off – like a mayonnaise based salad left under the buffet lights a bit too long.
“Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” – Cicero (WHAT?)
One of the wiser things I’ve learned is that even though I was a pretty good marketing consultant I can’t consult for myself. And who was it said that any person who represents himself in a lawsuit has a fool for a client?
There’s no source for absolute truth aside from God’s Word. What does it tell us about wisdom?
11 Wisdom Scriptures
There are 231 references to wisdom in the New King James Bible. Here are eleven that seem particularly appropriate to Cicero’s position.
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – Psalm 111:10
- For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding – Proverbs 2:6
- Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding – Proverbs 3:13
- My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding – Proverbs 5:1
- “For you have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, ‘No one sees me’; Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’ – Isaiah 47:10
- Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches – Jeremiah 9:23
- For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. – 1 Corinthians 1:17
- Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? – 1 Corinthians 1:20
- And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, – 1 Corinthians 2:4
- For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness” – 1 Corinthians 3:19
- But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. – James 3:17
When the subject is wisdom, is Cicero worth quoting?
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) may have been a learned guy, a philosopher from a wealthy family and a member of the equestrian order, but he was first and foremost a politician, a lawyer, a murderer, and was eventually assassinated.
He obviously thought very highly of himself. And while he did not have access to the Gospel in his lifetime, he certainly might have benefited from the Word of God.
Cicero’s personal life didn’t fare much better than his public life. He divorced his first wife and married a young girl who had been his ward. That union didn’t last either. It seems the one great love of his life was his daughter, Tullia. She died shortly after childbirth, leaving Cicero bereft.
“Cicero was stunned. “I have lost the one thing that bound me to life” he wrote to Atticus. Atticus told him to come for a visit during the first weeks of his bereavement, so that he could comfort him when his pain was at its greatest. In Atticus’s large library, Cicero read everything that the Greek philosophers had written about overcoming grief, “but my sorrow defeats all consolation.” Caesar and Brutus as well as Rufus sent him letters of condolence.” – Wikipedia entry
Wow, this guy was well connected. Caesar AND Brutus were considered friends. Apparently the Greek philosopher’s wisdom was not an adequate substitute for the wisdom of God. I wonder why Cicero didn’t come up with the perfect words of wisdom to tell himself? So where did Cicero’s great wisdom get him and is it really surprising that his thoughts about wisdom raise questions in the minds of people who have read God’s Word on the same subject?
When the substance of a quotation sounds fishy or you don’t know anything about the one who said it, do a little checking. Be wise choosing which quotes to share.
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* NOTE: Why would Confucius have made such a great horse trainer? Read this article in Christian Horse Training – 5 Unbreakable Rules of Beginning Round Pen Training. You can read the whole piece or jump down to Rule #3.