It’s a law of nature, a fact of life: What you don’t know will always be greater than what you know. It doesn’t matter if you are the slowest student in your class or the most intelligent teenager in the world. What you don’t know will always be greater than what you know.

It’s impossible to know 51% of all knowledge in the world. And more knowledge is generated every day.

This fact should be more obvious to us, but it often isn’t. We’re prone to forgetting this because our world gives us information at an unheard of pace. Because we know so much, we start to think there couldn’t possibly be another option that we don’t know about. We think we have all the facts, our reasoning is sound, and our decision is correct. We don’t need another perspective. And that’s the beginning of our downward spiral.

The moment we think we have all the wisdom we need on our own, we are walking on very thin ice, and if it cracks and we fall through, we can expect a sudden and painful wakeup call.

The Bible puts it this way: “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

The person in the verse isn’t deliberately choosing death. He’s examined all the facts he has. He’s reasoned the best that he can and come to the conclusion that this way was right. But what he didn’t know was greater than what he knew, and he didn’t know that his choice leads to death.

I can relate to that. Most of my regrets are things that I thought were good or harmless, only to learn the hard way that I wasn’t as smart as I thought.

The best way to become wise, then, is to acknowledge that you don’t know everything.

The Bible puts it this way: “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10)

How does this work?

When we fear God, we admit that He is better than we are, in every way. It means He, not our own opinion, is the starting point of our decisions. He knows all the facts; we only know a handful. He sees all outcomes; we don’t even know our own. He knows the intentions of people’s hearts; we don’t. He knows what’s best for us; we always get it wrong.

If we’re serious about that, then we’ll look for counsel. We won’t act impulsively, making decisions based only on our feelings or reasonings. We’ll be open to other perspectives. Most of all, we’ll look to find God’s voice among the many opinions and facts swirling around us.

And as we do this, we’ll find that we’re growing in wisdom. We’ll make better decisions. Our work will have better results. Our relationships will flourish. We’ll run from sin and avoid self-inflicted pain. All of this will happen because God knows what’s best for us, and when we fear Him, He teaches us the right way to live.

Let’s fast forward to the end of this year. Do you want to look back on 2018 and see regrets and death? Wouldn’t you rather look back and see wise decisions that resulted in blessing and life? The difference all hinges on whether or not we’ll fear God and trust Him to teach us.