8-12-2011 – “Timeless wisdom from Proverbs—times change, truth doesn’t” – Pastor Shane Idleman

Part IV in a series on wisdom.

Knowledge is knowing what to do; wisdom is doing it. Here are a few more areas where wisdom is vital:

  • Wisdom involves developing a teachable Spirit. Proverbs 9:9 says, “Teach the wise, and they will be wiser. Teach the righteousness, and they will learn more.” Embrace “constructive” criticism and learn from the advice of others. God does mighty things in the lives of those who are teachable and humble. Proverbs 18:12 add that before a man’s downfall his heart is proud. Be careful, the “higher” you think you are, the farther you can fall. During my career in the fitness industry, I had the privilege of overseeing hundreds of employees. Those who had a teachable and positive attitude often excelled and were a pleasure to work with; those filled with pride and negativity rarely lasted more than a few months.

In addition, Proverbs 27:2 warns against praising yourself. It’s not commendable to point out our accomplishments or income, or even our spiritual growth. God directs us to humble ourselves and not to think more of ourselves than we should. When we are boastful and arrogant, we often appear self-centered—not a very admirable quality. Allow others to congratulate and honor you as you seek to do the same.

  • Wisdom involves giving generously. Proverbs 11:25 says that generous people prosper and are satisfied, and that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Regardless of what we may think, everything we own is God’s; our job is to simply take care of what has been given to us. I’m reminded often of the story found in Luke 19:11-27. A master gave his servants talents to invest. Two of the servants invested wisely and took care of what had been given to them. The last servant hid the talent and did nothing with it. As a result, he lost it. We, too, are equally entrusted with gifts and freedom with how we are to invest in the lives of others, whether financially, relationally or physically—God will reward us as we honor others.

  • Wisdom involves measuring our words carefully. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger,” and Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Rethink what you’re about to say before you say it. Ask, “Are my words going to build the other person up or tear them down?” Negative words, and/or lack of edifying words expressed to others can play an enormous role in shaping or reshaping their lives, especially when it comes to what we say to our spouses and children. Choose your words carefully and encourage, not discourage, the success of others; and choose your thoughts carefully in promoting your own success.

  • Wisdom exercises power through patience. Proverbs 16:32 says, “It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Patient people deliberately take their time and examine the possibilities, weigh the consequences, seek guidance if necessary, and do what they believe to be right. Self-control allows us to control our desires and emotions rather than allowing them to control us. I rarely hear people say, “I moved too slowly”, but I often hear, “I moved too quickly”. Slow down, it’s worth the wait.

  • Wisdom trusts in God’s sovereignty. Proverbs 20:24 says, “How can we understand the road we travel? It is the Lord who directs our steps.” We will never fully understand the complexities of life; therefore, trust God and faithfully follow His lead. Dr. Wayne Grudem is helpful at this point: “Exactly how God combines His providential control with our [choices], Scripture does not explain to us. But rather than deny one aspect or the other simply because we cannot explain how both can be true, we should accept both in an attempt to be faithful to the teaching of all of Scripture.” The Lord directs our steps as we continually look to Him and His Word for guidance.

  • Wisdom avoids short cuts. Proverbs 21:5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23 also states, “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.” Labor is another word for effort; idle is another word for inactivity. In simpler terms, effort produces results; inactivity doesn’t! Putting first things first leads to success. Those things in life worth having generally take energy and commitment to achieve—healthy marriages, well balanced relationships with our children, and meaningful relationships with God, all take time, energy, and commitment—there are no short cuts. Don’t take shortcuts in business, relationships or finances either; they only lead to failure. Excessive gambling, pyramid schemes, and risky business ventures may seem harmless on the surface, but they can have devastating consequences. Even if the loss is minimal, it’s the principle that matters. God rewards wise decisions.