Reading Doesn’t Guarantee Success, Application Does

Part VI in a series on wisdom.

Knowledge is knowing what to do; wisdom is doing it. Here is more wisdom from Proverbs:

Proverbs 23:4 says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” When I worked in the corporate world, my seventy-hour week was spent crunching numbers, reviewing revenue lines, hitting board allocated budgets and auditing departments. I was not afforded the luxury of being involved in lives of others to the degree that I am now. I had certain protocols and agendas that demanded my time. Ultimately, I gave up so much for so little.

It’s unfortunate that today’s society focuses largely on external factors (e.g., money, position, and status.). These superficial values have left our nation in a moral, as well as a spiritual crisis. We’ve become a society focused on prosperity instead of provision, we value wealth instead of wisdom and we are drawn to charisma instead of character. Our foundation as a nation, and as individuals, has slowly deteriorated, but that can be changed if we once again focus on God’s Word and biblical principles, and live our lives accordingly. Use wisdom and moderation as you pursue your dreams, and focus on the blessings you do have, not on the things you don’t have.

Although we’ve been referencing the book of Proverbs, Psalm 1:1-3 provides three closing points. But again, reading doesn’t guarantee success, application does: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

1. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. Who do you associate with, listen to or spend time with? Are they encouraging or discouraging you? What do you watch on TV and/or the Internet, or listen to on the radio? What do you read? Simply position yourself correctly to receive God’s blessing.

2. Do not stand in the path of the sinner or sit in the seat of the scornful. It’s hard to get hit by a train if you’re not on the tracks. If you’re currently walking in the path of sin, remove yourself, ask for forgiveness, and choose the right path.

3. Blessed are those who delight in and mediate day and night on the Word of God. We make decisions daily, sometimes minute to minute. Meditating on God’s Word helps us to solve problems based on sound principles. Daily Bible study provides the basis for decision-making, encouragement, and wise counsel. Meditating on God’s Word keeps His standard for living ever before us; it rewards us with stability and peace.

4. Those who obey these Scriptures will be like trees planted by water and will bear fruit in season; their leaves will not wither, and everything they do will prosper. Bearing fruit in season means that some blessings are not always immediate. Figuratively speaking, you don’t see a young apple tree bear abundant fruit; the tree would collapse under the weight. Likewise, God prepares and builds so we can hold the weight of His blessing. Can you envision the weight of responsibility that Billy Graham carried as he ministered to millions over his lifetime? He began faithfully in small things, and his ministry grew. Don’t become frustrated if you haven’t received what you’ve been waiting for; God is building and strengthening you. Remain firmly planted and allow God to add to your increase. Most of us will not minister to millions as Dr. Graham has done; however, we are all capable of producing fruit within our daily lives by touching the lives of others, sometimes moment by moment.

5. We are also told that our leaves will not wither. God brings life to our spirits and we are to be life giving. God sustains us so that we can help sustain others.

6. Verse three concludes, “and whatever he does will prosper.” Disciplining ourselves to avoid sin and ungodly counsel, combined with meditating and acting upon God’s Word, will lead to a prosperous relationship with God, a prosperous marriage, a prosperous family, a prosperous career, a prosperous single life—all a reflection of a prosperous spirit.

No other decision will impact your life more than who, or what, you choose to follow. For this reason, lay aside feelings and opinions as you embrace wisdom (God’s Word). Feelings and opinions change—truth does not!