April 11, 2010
How to live wisely
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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