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April 11, 2010
How to live wisely
Proverbs 16-20

A couple of weeks ago we began our study in the Book of Proverbs.

In our first peek at the text we discovered that the overriding teaching that governs the entire book is this: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge/wisdom" Proverbs 1:7. In short, the meaning of this verse is this; if you want to be wise, start with God, seek a right relationship with Him on His terms(which is found in Christ). This is the beginning of wisdom.

In our second look at the text we observed that out the first 9 chapters, four of them deal with adultery and sexual purity. Hence I delivered a sermon to you entitled "What to teach your kids about love, sex, adultery, and how to have a strong and enduring marriage." Such was our focus because Solomon, a principle author of the Book of Proverbs, saw fit to instruct his son in such matters.

Today, we are going to drop down on select portions from Proverbs 16-20, with the intent of learning some of the practicalities of what it means to be a wise person. Since we can't cover every example of how to live wisely from Proverbs 16-20, I am going to focus on 7 examples of what wise living is about.

How to live wisely

1. Since God is sovereign over all things, put Him in whatever you do

When we speak of God's sovereignty it means that everything is under his power and control. He has charge over all things. His perfect will always comes to pass: Hence our goal is this: Live lives in alignment with Him and His will

Texts to read: Proverbs 16:1-4, 9, 33, Proverbs 19:21

New Testament connection: James 4:13-17

Herein the Apostle James says "Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

Chief indicators: Your prayer life, your speech

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

2. Don't dwell on the offenses others commit against you. Learn to forgive. Learn to let stuff go.

To say; "I remember when _____ said/did (whatever offensive or bad thing it was)", is go to down the wrong path.

See Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 19:11

An immediate implication: We will have successful and enduring relationships


Forgive in light of the forgiveness that you have received in Christ! (Matthew 18)

Forgive in light of what Jesus says in the Lord's prayer ("Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us" Matthew 6:12)

Forgive because it is part of being loving (I Corinthians 13:4-5 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.")

3. Be kind to the poor

Some verses concerning the poor in Proverbs 16-20. Read Proverbs 17:5; 18:23; 19:1,4,7, 17,22

Note: Our attitude towards the poor is key (lots of bad attitudes exist --lazy, unintelligent, etc). Every person is of worth and value.

We must exercise compassion, generosity, humility (for money is fleeting, health is fleeting)

We need to keep our eyes open to the needs of others

Application: When someone asks you for help what are you going to do?

Tip: If someone asks you for money and you refuse because you think it's going to go towards drugs/alcohol make sure that you make an extra donation to a charity that works with the group of people that you have refused. (I got this idea from the book "Bent Hope")

"Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matthew 5:42

Matthew 25:40 says that whatever you've done to the least of these you've done to me,... - jesus

4. Avoid quarrels and arguments- such destroys peace and unity

Some people like to argue and "stir the pot". The Bible takes a dim view of people who do this because ultimately, they cause dissension

Texts in Proverbs 16-20 on quarreling: Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 17:14,19, Proverbs 19:13, Proverbs 20:3

Titus 3:9-11 says; "But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."

Further application:

Don't use the internet to quarrel (face to face communication is the most effective form of communication, if you text argue, email argue, facebook argue, things are not going to go well. Unity will be very difficult)

We always need to be careful with our words. Through Proverbs 16-20 I found more than 30 references to our speech and words.

Note: James 3:1-12 a definitive passage on the tongue and it's wickedness

5. Check your ego. Pride comes before a fall

Read Proverbs 16:5,18-19, 25, Proverbs 18:11-12

Romans 12:3 says; "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith given you."

Note: I recently read a book entitled "How the mighty Fall" by Jim Collins, a well known business professor in the United States. In this book he traces the rise and fall of some of the biggest businesses in the United States- at least they were at one time-- i.e Circuit City, Fannie Me, Motorola, Zenith, A & P. His point: If companies such as Zenith and A&P, once the unquestioned champions in their fields, can plummet from great to irrelevant, then we should be wary about our own success.

As I read this book, detailing Collins research, I noted something; every company he featured essentially fell due to pride. Collins calls this "Hubris born of success", the Bible calls it pride.

Application: We need to guard our steps and our attitudes for God hates pride and it comes before a fall.

Don't strut around like a peacock!

6. Don't be hasty in your decision making, it tends to lead to regret

Read Proverbs 15:22, Proverbs 19:20, Proverbs 20:18,

Then read Proverbs 19:2-3-- key verse (this correlates to Romans 10:1-3)

Note the big lesson: When we make hasty decisions, born of foolishness, don't blame God.

Good decision making involves:

Time, counsel, a pros and cons list, prayer, an examination of our motives, research, evaluating the potential decision in light of the teachings and principles of the Scriptures

7. Work hard at what you do

We are to be known as hard workers

Scriptures in Proverbs that make this point: Proverbs 6:6-11, Proverbs 19:15,24, Proverbs 20:4,13

Other scriptures

We too lead productive and busy lives. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 it says; "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

Colossians 3:23 says "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men"

Further: Don't over do it. Do a few things well. If you bite off too much- you will choke. Balance your life. Not all work has to be paid.


The book of Proverbs is an easy access gold mine as it regards how to live wisely.

Today I've focused on 7 out of probably 12 things that caught my attention this past week as I read Proverbs. I trust that you will read Proverbs 21-25 this week with enthusiasm and when you happen across a teaching that grabs your attention, underline, write it down somewhere, memorize, post it on facebook, come back to it again.

Close with singing: Ancient Words