Wisdom is With the Humble

By Mark D. Roberts

April 29, 2024

The Gift of Wisdom

Scripture — Proverbs 11:2 (NRSV)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace;
but wisdom is with the humble.


According to Proverbs 11:2, “Wisdom is with the humble.” If we want to be wise, we must first acknowledge our limits and foibles, which helps us to be humble. Even more, by focusing on the majesty and omniscience of God, we are humbled further. We seek wisdom, not from ourselves, but from the only wise God.

Today’s devotion is part of the series The Gift of Wisdom.


In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we focused on a line from Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Our reverent fear of God not only moves us to live wisely before God but also draws us into God’s formidable and loving presence.

Righteous fear of the Lord causes us to bow our knees before God in humility. When we recognize the power, grandeur, majesty, justice, holiness, and all-surpassing wisdom of God, we cannot but humble ourselves before such a wondrous Being.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Scripture associates wisdom with humility. This is seen most clearly in Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble.” Humility that leads to wisdom begins with humility before God and extends throughout every part of our life and leadership.

One of the most famous seekers of wisdom was the Greek philosopher Socrates. His student, Plato, tells the story of Socrates’s search for wisdom in the book known as the Apology (meaning defense, not expression of regret). In this book, Socrates describes his effort to find the wisest person on earth:

Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of being wise [sophos] and observed to him—his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination—and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really sophos, although he was thought sophos by many, and more sophos still by himself; and I went and tried to explain to him that he thought himself sophos, but was not really sophos; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good [agathos], I am better off than he is—for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know._ In this latter particular, then, I seem to be slightly more sophos than him (Apology 21 CD, emphasis added).

Socrates believed that the wisest person would be someone who first acknowledged their lack of wisdom. This acknowledgment, when genuine, reflects profound humility. This sort of humility comes, not only when we recognize our own deficiencies, but also when we are overwhelmed by the wonder of God’s omniscience and limitless understanding. Compared to God, we are not even close to being wise.

I confess that I am still working on having the sort of humility that leads to wisdom. I admit I sometimes find myself on the pride-that-leads-to-disgrace path (as in Prov 11:2). But I will say that the longer I live, the more I move in the direction of humility for two main reasons. First, I’m aware of all the wrong decisions I have made throughout my life. Whereas I once had abundant confidence in my ability to discern what’s best, I now realize how often I can mess up. This recognition encourages humility, to be sure.

Second, I’m also aware of how amazing God’s wisdom is and how divine wisdom is often different from my own. As I look back on my life, I can see God doing things that made no sense to me at the time. Sometimes, in fact, they made me very angry and I boldly told God so. God seemed to be getting things so very wrong. But, in retrospect, as I see how things have turned out, I can see how God’s wisdom was so much superior to my own. Thus, even when I feel confident in the judgments I am making today, I am usually willing to acknowledge that I might be wrong. So, though I’m not an expert in humility, by God’s grace I am humbler than I was decades ago. I hope I will continue to grow in humility in the decades yet to come.

In his book The Wise Leader, Uli Chi devotes an entire chapter to “Wisdom and Humility.” Observing the example of Jesus, Uli writes, “Humility . . . is at the heart of a Christian vision of leadership. It is also at the heart of what it means to be a wise leader.” He follows this affirmation with some questions you may well be asking at this point: “But can humility ‘work’ in the real world where we live? Is it merely an idealistic vision best left to our religious duties, or can it make a difference in helping organizations flourish? How, for example, might humility play out in business?” He then shows how humility can “work” in the real world and how we can adopt attitudes that cultivate humility in our lives. We can recognize the limits of our own knowledge and acknowledge that what we think we know may be wrong.

The freedom to own such limits will be greatly enhanced, I believe, by meditating on the majesty and superiority of God’s wisdom and knowledge. Our growth in wisdom has everything to do with our growth in our relationship with the living God. I’ll have more to say about this in future devotions in this series.


What do you see to be the relationship between wisdom and humility?

When it comes to humility, how are you doing? What helps you to be humble? What gets in the way of your humility?

Have you known someone who was both wise and humble? If so, what was this person like? How might you be more like this person?


Reflect on decisions you have made recently. To what extent are you willing to admit that they might not have been the best?


Gracious God, how you are great beyond all comprehension. Yet you chose to humble yourself in Christ, taking on the limits of humanity and the humiliation of the cross. Thank you for showing us what true humility is like.

Help me, I pray, to grow in humility, not the pretense of humility, but genuine humility. May I live each day with the awareness of your majesty. May I honor you by seeking your guidance in all things. May I honor my colleagues by listening deeply to them and valuing their input.

All praise, glory, and honor be to you, the all-wise God! Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Wise Worker is Modest (Proverbs).

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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