Turn on the news and you’ll hear two contradictory phrases in one sentence. Everyone’s calling everyone else a liar and talking about “alternative facts” and “fake news.” It can be hard to sift through the nonsense to find truth. We all need wisdom.
But maybe, it’s more personal. Maybe you’re asking:
Is this a wise financial decision?
Should I marry this person?
How do I reconcile this relationship?
How do I help my struggling child?
We’ll get contradictory answers from Google, social media, and friends. But there is good news. All truth is God’s truth, and there is no such thing as alternative facts. God's wisdom has been around from the beginning of time and has not changed (Proverbs 8:22-31). He’s speaking to us all the time if we’ll pay attention (Proverbs 8:1-11).
Since we are made in God’s image, we have the ability to know right from wrong, show common sense, and have sound judgment (Proverbs 8:12-21). We have access to all the wisdom and understanding we’ll ever need to live the life God is calling us to.
Proverbs 8:32-36 says of wisdom, “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it … For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”
It’s good to seek wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 11:14). We do well to consult with others who have found godly wisdom — and even to look to experts for advice. However, the first and most important one we should look to is the Lord. “Counsel and sound judgement are mine; I have insight, I have power” (Proverbs 8:14).
Whatever type of wisdom we are seeking, we would do well to ask ourselves, does what I’m thinking or hearing line up with the wisdom of God revealed through His Word?
Few things are as terrifying as being swept up by a riptide or strong current. Before you realize what’s happening, you are out of control, at the mercy of the ocean current. Caught in the current, a person can get sucked away 10 feet per second — far too fast to swim back to shore. If you are fortunate enough to be rescued, expect to be badly shaken and possibly injured.
Riptides are dangerous. They are also completely avoidable. At beaches where riptides happen frequently, signs warn swimmers and surfers not to venture into certain areas. Meteorologists can predict weather conditions that create strong currents and advise us about when and where swimming could be dangerous.
Temptation often comes at us like a riptide. We’re swimming along just fine, when all of a sudden something tugs us in another direction. We’re swimming hard, but we’re getting nowhere.
Thankfully, the Bible provides us with warning signs and instructions on how to avoid the pain and destruction of giving in to sin (Proverbs 7:21-23). The same way a meteorologist understands the weather, God is the expert on sin and the human condition. He made us, and one of the best ways to protect ourselves from temptation is to immerse ourselves in the truth of His Word (Proverbs 7:1-5 and Proverbs 7:24-25).
We protect ourselves from temptation by immersing ourselves in the truth of God’s Word.
A high regard for Scripture is the best protection against sin. That’s the warning the father gives his son in Proverbs 7 when he says to love wisdom like a sister and make insight a beloved member of the family. We can choose to ignore warning signs and make excuses, or we can steer clear of temptation entirely.
Learning by experience is effective, but often painful. Wouldn’t you rather stay out of the water out of Scripture-based empowerment rather than being driven by the crippling fear of past experience?
Proverbs 6:7-8 says the ant “has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” How does the ant know what to do if it doesn’t have a leader? The answer is that it probably learned from watching other ants do those very things from a tiny, early age.
If we pay close enough attention and take the time to learn, we don’t actually need anyone to tell us what to do or what steps to take in our relationships with Jesus.
A couple of years ago, a man said something similar in relation to his wife. He doesn’t have to tell his wife to read her Bible because she knows its value and she knows how. She does it on her own because it matters in her relationship with Jesus.
Too many of us put obedience on hold until someone tells us what to do. That’s too much pressure to put on anyone, whether it be your husband, your pastor, your wife, or whoever else you think should be leading you.
Proverbs 6:20-22 reminds us that proper instruction prepares us to operate and act on our own. Having leaders does not excuse us from doing what needs to be done, taking care of ourselves, and taking our next steps with Jesus. The Bible is our instruction. It’s time to take responsibility for ourselves and act, just like the ant.
Any one of us can become trapped by seduction. Sexual temptation isn’t something we fall for; it’s something we take steps toward over time.
We all have a real enemy who tries hard to sweet talk his way into our lives. Slowly and surely, like dripping honey, Satan tries to convince us that what he offers is better than what we have. He does his best to lure us into believing that the repercussions for sexual sin are not a big deal.
People have affairs all the time.
He/she will never know.
Who’s going to tell?
It’s only this once.
Giving in to seduction will lead to greater devastation than we ever imagined. When the father in Proverbs 5 warns his sons, “Do not go near the door,” he isn’t being extreme.
Eventually, a series of small decisions can snowball us into a place we swore we’d never go. All sin begins with a single choice — a decision to believe that we’ll find greater freedom and satisfaction outside God’s boundaries and protection.
In describing the intimacy two people experience in marriage, the father reminds his sons that obedience is not a prison; it protects our true freedom.
Coveting what is not ours, what was never meant to be ours, leads to death, but gratitude leads to blessing and joy (Proverbs 5:18-19).
Our choices are a big deal. God knows our every thought and the depths of our hearts. He wants us to follow Him wholeheartedly, committed to His ways and truth. Leaning in, humbly listening to wisdom and correction is the first step away from utter ruin and into the whole and satisfying life God has planned for each of us.
Everyone wants to believe the myth of control. We believe we are in control of our lives, until something happens and we’re not.
Turns out, the people in our lives who have “been there and done that” know what they're talking about. With every token of advice in Proverbs 4, the father basically reminds his son, “listen to me because I love you and I've been there.”
We receive a wealth of wisdom by listening to the people God places in our lives. We all need wise people in our lives. Wisdom comes in many forms: words from a parent, grandparent, mentor, or friend. Older, godly people can offer the gift of perspective communicated in love.
There are those who are wicked who will attempt to deceive and derail us with their advice, but if we heed the words of the wise, we will be successful. This is why the father warns his son to be selective with who he listens to.
All advice is not created equal. Value the words of those who love Jesus and love you. Let their words carry more weight.
We mature in our faith the same way we mature in life. We learn from those who go before us. Then, we act in accordance to their advice, guarding our hearts, guarding our mouths, keeping focused on what’s ahead, and not losing focus. And as we grow, pass the same wisdom we’ve received on to others. And before we know it, we’re leading others in love just as we were led.
We want to spend time with Jesus, but we forget to set the alarm clock and oversleep instead of reading the Bible and praying.
Conviction allows us to recognize when we’ve messed up and motivates us to do things differently moving forward. Guilt binds us down and convinces us we can never move forward. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit. Guilt is a tool of Satan.
Satan is crafty in his efforts to steal our joy and destroy our best intentions. That’s one reason Proverbs reminds us to remember the Lord’s teaching and His character: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3).
Loving and faithful are the two most consistent ways God describes Himself. Of all of the things He would have us hold close and “write on the tablets of our heart,” it’s this: I still love you and I’m not leaving you.
When circumstances would cause us to give up, God tells us to remember who He is and to show those characteristics to others — including ourselves.
When we hear whispers that would pull us away from the Lord, we can have hope by simply remembering who loves us, who died for us and how many times He has already been faithful.
Imagine going on a road trip without a GPS, a map, or any familiarity with the road ahead of you. At first, it might not be difficult to find your way. But eventually, you would reach a point where you had no sense of direction. You would be lost. Technology provides quick and easy navigation for the road, but what about when we feel lost in life?
It’s hard to find direction when we don’t always have clear instructions from God.
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t hear what God was saying to you? Maybe you faced a big decision where it wasn’t clear which option was best. We may not have a road map or GPS for the situation before us, but the Lord doesn’t want to confuse us or leave us hanging.
God gives us a way to hear from Him and understand His desire for our lives. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Every word in the Bible was “God-breathed,” meaning it was inspired by God and recorded by men (2 Timothy 3:16). That’s why we call the Bible “God’s Word.” Reading the Bible is the way we hear from God and grow in wisdom and understanding.
As we read the Bible and pray, we get to know God better and learn to trust Him more. And the more clearly we see God, the more clearly we can see what He would want for us.
Wisdom doesn’t always come right away, and it doesn’t always come in the way we wanted. But God always guides us in His own timing for our good.
Most of us know ‘the look.’ It’s the face mom makes when she catches us digging into the cake for the church social. It’s the face dad makes after finding his favorite silk tie tied to the dog. Whether the offense was immediately forgiven, or punished severely, we know we’ve messed up when we see ‘the look’ and we learn from those mistakes.
In Proverbs 1, King Solomon states the purposes for the rest of his book: to learn wisdom, understanding, prudent behavior, doing what is right and fair, knowledge, and discretion.
We don’t have to learn everything by mistake. Wisdom says if we consistently obey God’s rules, we can avoid painful consequences. Read the Bible; do what it says.
As adults, we balk at the idea that wisdom is as simple as being obedient. Too often, we go about our daily grind and pretend we’ve got it together. We refuse advice that teaches us to live a more fruitful, less anxious life.
But at the start of this book, Solomon calls us to humble ourselves, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
Solomon writes that “… the complacency of fools will destroy them.” But God shows us another way to live: “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you…whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (Proverbs 1:23-32).
Wisdom begins with listening. Achieving it is a lifetime journey.
Like the mom who calls us to task for using crayons where we shouldn’t, God’s rebuke is meant to stop, redirect, and set us back on the path He knows is best for us. There, we will learn true wisdom. We can follow God, at ease on the path He has chosen, or we can risk being the fool that despises God and does things his own way. It’s up to us.
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