This is part twelve in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of this study is to learn what God has to say in this book about wisdom and discernment. Yesterday I learned that God is the source of wisdom and justice and in order to please Him I need to exhibit those traits. I also learned that acquiring wisdom should not lead to arrogance but to humility. Finally, I have to take responsibility for my own sin. Even if I pursue a life of wisdom I need to expect God’s rebuke and correction for those times I do choose foolishness.
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.”
This repeats what I have learned in previous days. Part of searching for and acquiring wisdom is acknowledging that wickedness continues to exist in my life. If I truly wish to grow in wisdom I need to be open to rebuke and correction from my peers and from God. I need to discipline myself to avoid sin and sinful situations. A foolish man, however, shows his folly in despising correction, thinking he has no need of it.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.”
What a great example of the imagery used in Proverbs! An excellent wife, one who exhibits the qualities and traits of wisdom, is a crown to her husband. People see the husband and admire him for having such a wonderful wife. Of course the same is true of a woman with an excellent husband. But a wife who is foolish and seeks not to exhibit the qualities of a wise person is like a disease. Where an excellent wife makes her husband look handsome and powerful, a shameful wife makes him look weak and diseased. Rather than bringing admiration, a foolish wife brings shame to her husband.
“A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
Many mothers have told their daughters that they can learn about a man by the way he treats his animals. Most probably did not know there is a Biblical basis to that wisdom! God takes into account the way we treat animals for it shows that we regard with respect what God has created. A righteous man treats his animals well which shows that he has a tender heart, but a wicked man is unable to show mercy and tenderness. Even when he tries he fails, for he cannot deny or overcome the wickedness that is in his heart.
“The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will come through trouble. A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him.”
I have not yet reached the halfway mark in Proverbs, yet I can already see the value the author places on wise speech. He has already taught that what comes from the lips is an indication of what is in the heart. He continues the theme by showing that wicked men, those who do not guard their speech, bring themselves into trouble. The righteous man, on the other hand, avoids trouble. If trouble does come his way, he is able to get through it by choosing his words carefully.
The wise man that guards his lips will be rewarded for this choice. Being wise with words will create long, deep and lasting relationships with other people. It will avoid breaking down relationships. The reward for consistently guarding one’s tongue is just as important and tangible as the rewards for a life of consistent labor.
“Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.”
Yesterday I saw that justice and wisdom come from God and, as their ultimate source, He is pleased when I choose to exhibit those qualities. In this verse I see that truth also finds its source in God. Because of that, those who lie are an abomination to Him while He delights in those who seek to tell the truth. My day-to-day activities will glorify God if I exhibit godly character while doing them.
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Every parent knows that the friends your children choose will shape their character. Every parent wants their children to have friends that exhibit good qualities in their character, knowing that their children will learn from their friends. The same is true, though, of adults. Because character continues to develop throughout life, even the friends I have as an adult will influence me. If friends who love folly will lead eventually me astray, I know that I need to be careful to choose friends who love truth. I need to find friends who will help me attain godly character; friends who are also searching for the way of wisdom.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the twelfth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- I need to not just tolerate but love correction for through it I will increase in wisdom. Similarly, I need to be willing to reprove people I know who are seeking wisdom if I see sin in their lives.
- I show my character in the way I treat what God has created, even the animals.
- I need to guard my lips against idle and destructive speech. The reward for living a life based on this principle will be every bit as significant as the reward for laboring diligently.
- I need to choose friends carefully, seeking out people who display godly character, knowing that I will be influenced by those I spend time with.