In Part I of Wisdom from Proverbs, we looked at 7 Habits of a Fool. It’s easy to pick on fools because they’re so blatantly…well, foolish! But not playing the fool doesn’t necessarily prove that you’re wise either. In fact, Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise…” So how do you know if you’re truly wise or just a silent fool?
For that answer, we go to Scripture. The Bible consistently provides a measuring rod of truth that you can use to test if your faith is genuine, and certainly to test if your wisdom is genuine.
Grab your Bible again, turn to Proverbs, and let’s see how we measure up to the 7 Habits of the Wise.
- The Wise Can Discern What Wisdom Is (1:5-6; 4:5-7; 13:10; 13:20; 16:21-22; 17:24; 19:8; 19:20; 20:18; 21:11; 24:6)
A ministry mentor once told me, “Hear many, listen to few.” Getting perspective from others is a humble way to learn and can be very helpful, but when it finally comes to decision time, only your most trusted advisors should have a voice. There’s nothing worse for a family, a business, or a church, then leaders who do not make well-informed decisions. This is why the “podcast pastor” epidemic is so dangerous. Technology can be a blessing to our spiritual growth, but when we need wisdom to make the right decision, we need to be careful turning on a podcast pastor who lives 1000 miles away or googling what John MacArthur thinks (guilty of this!). First and foremost, we need to go to our actual pastor who knows us, loves us, and can provide accurate wisdom based on our specific situation. Did you know your pastor is biblically responsible for providing you with wisdom and will give an account for how he led you one day? (Hebrews 13:17). At MBC we tell people all the time, if you can’t trust us as church leaders, we’ll help you find a church where you can. Nobody should be left as an orphan in the body of Christ and every sheep should know their shepherd. In life, we’ll hear a lot of voices, but only the wise can discern which one is true wisdom for their personal decision.
- The Wise Work Hard For The Right Things (11:4; 11:24; 12:11; 13:11; 16:8; 16:16-17 ;20:13; 22:1; 23:1-5)
You’re not going to find a wise person trying to get rich quick because they’ll be too busy working hard for their increase. Wise people who happen to be wealthy know they’re blessed to be a blessing and they keep wealth in the right perspective. Wise people who aren’t wealthy live within their means, and trust the Lord with what they’ve been given. God has and always will honor those who work hard, stay faithful, and live generously no matter what their salary is. This past Sunday our Sunday School taught the kids about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. One little boy asked the teacher, “Why is the rich man in Hades and the poor man is with Abraham? If he was rich, he must have had a good life and should be with poor man in heaven!” The teacher explained that the rich man used his riches for all the wrong things. The Bible doesn’t speak against having a nice house or making a good honest wage, but it does make clear that the wise work harder at building God’s kingdom, than their own castle.
- The Wise Lose the Argument Before Ever Losing Their Temper (12:18; 16:32; 17:14; 17:27; 19:11; 29:9; 29:11; 29:8)
Wise people know that no resolution can be found once tempers have been lost. Proverbs repeatedly offers wisdom to those who struggle with anger, and affirms those who consistently avoid a war of words – or worse. Notice that nowhere in these verses does it say conflict won’t happen. That’s because conflict in life is inevitable. The wise know how to handle their emotions, and practice keeping their tongue under control. So what’s it going to be when a quarrel breaks out? Fight or flight?
- The Wise Bring Joy to Family, Friends, and Even Foes (13:1; 14:26; 15:20; 16:7; 23:15; 23:24-25; 27:11; 29:2-3)
Wise people will still frustrate others at times, but it won’t be due to their foolish decisions! Parents, is there anything better than seeing your kids living for Christ, making the right choice even when it’s hard, marrying the right person, or honoring their commitments? Think about bosses who lead organizations ethically and treat employees with fairness or dependable dad’s who work hard, love their wives, and consistently provide a good example to their kids. One more: church leaders who plan ahead, budget properly, spend only what God provides, and stand their ground on biblical truth rather than people pleasing. Sounds like people who are fun to be around! Even people who may not like you will respect you because you’re consistent in what you believe and the principles you stand on. The wise say what they mean, mean what they say, and what you see is what you get.
- The Wise Plan Ahead (6:6-8; 21:5; 24:21-22; 24:27; 27:23-27; )
In 2011 I ran the San Francisco marathon without any training to prove to my sister how “naturally” fit I was. I did it in 4 1/2 hours and have the medal to prove it. I also have the hotel receipt for the additional $300 it cost to lay motionless in my hotel bed for 2 extra days because I couldn’t walk afterwards. There’s a reason why people train for 6 months and plan ahead for marathons. If being a prudent planner was easy to do, everybody would be considered wise. Planning ahead is easy to think about but takes incredible discipline and practice to do. The disappointing thing about being a poor planner is that there’s rarely a good excuse. Churches in Illinois know they’re in Tornado Alley so they build the sanctuary a certain way, Alaskan fisherman know the weather so they dress a certain way, and people know April 15th is when the Tax-Man says pay! The wise don’t assume everything will just work itself out. Lastly, wise people are usually in control of their emotions so they are able to stay balanced and objective even when things do not go according to plan. They simply go back to the drawing board, learn from their mistakes, and trust the Lord.
- The Wise Avoid Debt and/or Pay Off Debt (6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18; 22:26-27)
Speaking of planning ahead, the wise know it’s good practice to pay their credit card off every 30 days or to avoid living on credit all together. In a day and age where school is required and not everyone can afford it, let’s leave the debate about student loans off the table for now and agree that in the very least, credit card spending with money we don’t actually have and balances we can’t actually pay off, is living dangerously. Proverbs tells us to not make pledges we can’t pay, and if we have done so, then we need run like a Gazelle (that’s really fast!) to pay it off. Is it time for you to get a side job for a few months or to stop spending what you don’t have? If we’re wise, we’ll take Solomon seriously on this one.
- The Wise Man Finds an Excellent Wife (12:4; 18:22; 19:13-15; Chapter 31)
A wise man who marries a wise woman for the right reasons has “power couple” written all over it. God honors men and women who work hard, live faithfully, listen carefully, and keep their eyes on the right things. If you have sons, teach them to marry the woman in chapter 31 and steer clear of a contentious woman no matter how dolled up she looks on Instagram. 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” And If you have daughters, teach them to stay away from fools until a wise man comes.
We’ve covered 7 habits of both the foolish and the wise and you might be thinking, is it too late for my kids, myself, or someone else I love? Be encouraged – we’ve all played the fool at one time or another. Be aware – sometimes, enough is enough.
Pray for growth, trust the Lord, and open up a chapter a day in the Proverbs – there’s thirty-one, one per day!