Category Archives: Knowledge

Innocent As Children?

Proverbs 20:11

11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

I can remember growing up hearing “Why did you that? You know better!” whenever I would misbehave. It started around the age of four years or so. It was always said in response to something I had previously done or went against common sense, even for a child.

As a culture we seem to have a certain expectation of children, that they are sweet, innocent little angels who become corrupted by age and experience. Even at a young age we expect our children to behave a certain way, and when they do not they need to be corrected and reprimanded.

If our children have the expectation to do what is right, how much more should we expect teens and adults to do what is right?

You know better!

How do we know we have these expectations of people? We all seem to have an innate understanding of what is right and wrong.

It is seen every time we get upset with someone for doing something stupid or that hurts someone else.

It is seen every time someone does something considered morally wrong. All religions and atheists admit to a moral code.

All people fall short at some point, and it always seems as though we can hear someone saying “You know better!”

We have God’s Word to reveal to us how we each have gone astray from what is right. Honestly, it is put in such simple terms that children can understand it.

Yet we fail time and again.

But God helps us and changes us through His Holy Spirit.

Even children know how to do what is right if they are told.

God has shown us. May we, as His children, listen.

Heavenly Father, You are so holy and amazing. May Your Kingdom be lived out through our lives, that the world may glorify You.  Let our actions speak of Your perfect will and grace, that the world may know what is pure and right: You.


Playing Safe or Understanding

Proverbs 19:25

25 Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

The Line

I have worked with many people in my relatively short thirty years on this earth.

Some of these people did the bare minimum of the required work to get by while complaining about the work, the environment, or other employees and/or supervisors.

When another employee, one who does the bare minimum and complains about everything, gets reprimanded or fired, they get quiet for a few days or weeks. They might even learn how to cover their tracks a little better or when to complain.

The consider themselves smart for avoiding trouble. The know where the line of disobedience is, and they toe it carefully to avoid crossing it.

I and others preferred to go the other route. We have tried to do the best work we can with as little complaining as possible. If we did our job in such a way that required reprimanding (a talking-to, a write-up, a pay cut, etcetera), we would attempt to be better and do better.

We were given more knowledge to help us understand our job better and be better at it.

Walking It Out

When Jesus died on the cross, there were two men on either side of him. Both were guilty and deserving of punishment. One looked to Jesus and, while dying for his crime, mocked Jesus. The other criminal talked with Jesus and gained the knowledge that He is the Son of God.

Jesus’ death and resurrection was God telling us we cannot live up to His standards, and we need His help.

Most of us take that warning as simply a call to live a better and more moral life, or we simply just mock Him and call His standard backward, archaic, or illogical.

Some of us look to the cross and gain the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our only way to measure up before God.

Gracious God, give us the wisdom to accept correction, the strength to change, and the power to grow. Draw us closer to You that as our knowledge and understanding grow, we may help lead others to the saving knowledge of Your Son.


Listen To Me Please!

Proverbs 19:20

“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”

listen-to-me-pleaseI have one child. She is currently eight years old going on 16 and she already knows everything! I am sure that most parents have been in this situation at one time or another.

I have found myself more and more saying to her, “Just listen to me, please! I have been there before and I am trying to help you, so just listen to me”. (I know my parents have a smile of their face about right now)

Just the other day, we were working on some math homework for school. She was convinced that the answer that she had come up with was the correct answer and that nothing else could be right. As I proceeded to help her, I was met with the look on her face that told me that I was stupid and that I did not know what I was talking about.

I begged her to please listen to me because for one, I had done this type of math before and I knew how to get the right answer and number 2, I knew that I was right!

Long story short, after a long, hard battle of trying to show her that I was right, she finally looked at me and said that I guess you do know what you are talking about. Later that day she told me that the way I showed her how to get the answer was a much easier way.

This is exactly what Solomon was talking about in our verse today. He is telling us that while we are young, we need to listen to people who have been through different experiences and learn from them. Whether someone has gone through a good experience or a bad experience, there is always something that we can learn from them in how they handled the situation.

Solomon is telling us that when we listen to instructions and advice, that when we are older we will be wise in how we handle things.

Lord, give us ears that are open to advice and instructions and give us wisdom and understanding to compare them with Your Word. We pray that when we are young that we would listen to godly advice and instructions and when we are older, that that same godly advice would be passed down to the next generation.


Understanding Our Need

Proverbs 19:8

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”

Understanding Ourselves

Our world likes to teach us that we must dig down deep inside of ourselves to find the truth of ourselves. They tell us it will help us find peace and freedom.

I tend to agree.

… just not for the reasons they claim.

Their claim is that we will find the good inside of us, the things that will bring us happiness, joy, and peace as we discover our true selves.

That is where I disagree.

While we may have good inside of us (God did create us, after all), if we dig down deep we find even more that we are not so good.

We are selfish, dishonest, angry, blasphemous individuals.

Being Honest with Ourselves

If we could be honest with ourselves, we would understand that there is no way we could find good in and of ourselves.

The only way to find good in ourselves is to get wisdom.

As has been said many times during our adventures through Proverbs (one time that comes immediately to mind is my commentary on Proverbs 3:18), Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Jesus is the only good we can find in ourselves when we believe in Him.

Getting a hold of Jesus, putting our faith in the truth of His life, death, and resurrection, shows that I love my soul.

Do you love your soul?

Wise Lord, reveal Your wisdom to us. Create in us a desire to seek You through bringing us all to understanding ourselves. Help us to live within that understanding and wisdom.


Head vs Heart

Proverbs 19:2

‘Desire without knowledge is not good –
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!’

Desirable

It’s good to be passionate, to have strong desires to be love and to care. Without it life would be very boring, but as this Proverb hints at heart without a bit of head can lead us to miss the real path.

Unbalanced

A lot of people these days are driven purely by emotion. They go after things they want with reckless abandon. When we are totally driven by emotion we often end up making bad decisions and hurting people in the process. People driven by emotion will throw away relationships on a whim because they have seen the next best thing, they will chase promotions at the expense of colleagues, they will attempt to satisfy every whim and fancy in any way possible, and worst of all usually be blind to the trail of destruction in their wake. Our emotions need to submit to our common sense, and both need to submit to Jesus.

Counting the Cost

We need both desire and knowledge to make our decisions as we do not want to miss the way. Consider the words of Jesus:

Luke 14:28-33 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” ‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’

May we learn the power of passion and desire guided by wisdom and knowledge.


The Art of Studying

Proverbs 18:17

He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. (KJV)
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. (ESV)

Berean-ness

In the book of Acts, Luke tells us about the Jews in Berea: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts, 17:11, NIV)

They heard the message, and it was intriguing! Yet, they were careful enough to study what was being sold to them as truth.

Of Cults and Purchases

A big reason Protestant and Evangelical Christians have pushed reading and knowing the Bible so much is because of what may come from an uninformed people.

If someone gives information backed with enough facts and it sounds exciting, people are willing to listen. Especially in a hurting and broken world, news of hope and peace  can be easily and eagerly lapped up by the hurting masses.

This is why heresies and cults are able to arise so easily. Even though there is a blatant lie (such as Jesus being the highest of angels, from Jehovah’s Witnesses, or some people can attain godhood, from the Latter-Day Saints [Mormon]), an uneducated mind  is willing to accept it. It is only by studying the facts that the truth is revealed.

Having been in sales and retail most of my adult life, I can tell you how true this is on the most basic of levels. A crafty salesman can convince a person that they need a particular item, and many people fall for this. Someone else must clean up the mess when the customer comes back complaining and needing to return the product.

They were sold something they thought they needed, what they were told they needed, and not what was best for them.

Studying God

Are we seeking truth or simply what we want to hear?

We cannot simply take what is told to us as truth. There are enough people out there who will twist the gospel for their own purposes. (To be fair, some pastors and speakers misquote and take out of context on accident. Then it is important to study to help keep the message pure!)

When these people “states his case” about God, through Scripture God is the One who examines them.
“He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.” (Psalm 11:4)

Lord, help us listen to truth and not be deceived. On a daily basis, may our prayer to You be “Test me, Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind” (Psalm 23:2). May we be found honest and find truth through You.


Big Ears

Proverbs 18:13 

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
To answer before listening – that is folly and shame. (NIV)

It doesn’t matter how much teaching we receive on the subject of listening, or how many times we are reminded by Scripture (James 1:19) to be quick to listen and slow to speak, most of us are not good listeners. Isn’t it true that when we are on the listening end of a conversation we are only partially listening? Generally we are working out our reply and looking for the opportunity to interrupt so that we can say what we want to say.

Our failure to be listeners exists despite our own experience of being in conversations where we know that the other person hasn’t heard a word we have said. Such experience means that we are all acutely aware of the need to be good listeners. It is foolish, rude, and shameful to interrupt with a response when the other party to a conversation has not finished speaking.

Listening requires focus and concentration. It is important that we hear correctly and understand what is being said, not just in conversations with other people, but when we come to God in prayer. So how do you approach God in prayer? With a listening heart or a chattering mouth? Or do you start out planning to listen but end up butting in so many times that you never really hear what God is saying to you? God speaks to us in many different ways. It is essential that we take time to ensure that we hear what He is saying. While that means listening carefully, it also means growing in our understanding and knowledge of Him. It is a bit like learning to speak a foreign language effectively. It requires practice and a lot of work to achieve real understanding.


A People of Understanding

Proverbs 18:2

A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Time after time the book of Proverbs has given us characteristics of a fool:

  • Fools despise wisdom & instruction (Proverbs 1:7) 
  • Fools hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:22)
  • Fools slander (Proverbs 10:18)
  • Fools cause mischief (Proverbs 10:23)
  • Fools are deceitful (Proverbs 14:8)

Our verse today adds one more characteristics – a fool is someone who does not want to understand.

Bla_Bla_Bla_by_explosiv22I knew a guy in college that was never wrong, even when he was wrong. He did not want to even consider the possibility of being wrong. He knew everything and had the answer to ever question that has ever been asked.

You know the type of person that I am talking about! They have no interest in hearing the truth but are speaking to hear themselves talk and to show others just how much they know.

The New Living says, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Fools want to talk all of the time and tell other people their opinions and how things should be done but don’t want to hear any instructions themselves because they know best. Many times, these people talk just to hear themselves, and all that the other people are hearing is “BLA, BLA, BLA”.

FULL CIRCLE

There are several verses in Proverbs that do this, but I believe that our verse today comes full circle with the whole theme of Proverbs. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

As Christians, how can we expect to fear the Lord and grow in knowledge when we want to live our lives the way we want to and aren’t willing to submit to HIS will for our lives. We are saying to Him that I just don’t want to understand Your ways and I think that I can do better. If we are living our lives this way, we are nothing but fools, but I do it all the time!

Lord, I pray that you would help me and others to live our lives in such a way that we would not be fools with our lives. I pray that we would be willing to submit ourselves to you and understand Your ways. 


What I Thought Was a Good Thing Was Not

Proverbs 18:1

“Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh [and] intermeddleth with all wisdom.”

Embarrassing

When talking through the Proverbs on one Wednesday night at church, my own wife, sitting on the front row, asked a question that caused me a little embarrassment. I had just read the above verse from the King James Version and was about to give my thoughts when she asked, “Why does my version read so differently?”

You see, I encourage my congregation to compare translations when doing a verse-by-verse study of Scripture, for, like turning a faceted jewel, a different perspective can bring out color and sparkle never seen before. It’s the same flawless stone, but from a different angle. Granted, not all translations agree on every interpretation, but where one might be off, a group of translations will clarify the proper meaning of the text.

So, my wife’s version read: He who separates himself seeks [his own] desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom(NASB). At that, another church member volunteered her version’s take: “Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense” (NLT).

I didn’t have an answer. What’s even worse, my interpretation of Proverbs 18:1 and the application I was going to make was no where even close to the idea the other two versions were conveying. What we had here was a preacher who didn’t follow his own advise and got caught not doing his homework.

My Original Thoughts

My original thoughts on Proverbs 18:1, based simply on a cursory reading of English I thought made perfect sense, went something like this:

“Through desire,” because a man has to have the desire or drive to do something worthwhile, a man who wants to learn sometimes has to get alone, push aside distractions, and “separate himself.” It’s something that takes commitment – you have to want it. But it’s not simply the “getting alone” that makes all the difference; it’s the seeking of wisdom from multiple disciplines that gives one understanding in more than one area of life. Or, you could just say that learning takes hard work, but you can’t be lazy – you have to work for it.

But that wasn’t what this verse is saying.

The Real Meaning

Please understand, the King James Version’s translation of verse 1 is not incorrect; the way we say things and how we use our words have changed, that’s all.

The other translations I mentioned rendered Proverbs 18:1 in a way modern readers, such as myself, could better understand the original text. Where I thought “desire” and “separated himself” meant something noble, the actual meaning of the original text (and the way an Elizabethan reader would have understood the KJV) was something selfish and arrogant.

Where I thought “intermeddleth with all wisdom” was saying the man checked out more than one book in the library, the word “intermeddleth” means to “to expose, lay bare,” or “quarrel with anyone, especially in dice, drinking, or in dividing an inheritance” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon).

So, another way you could interpret Proverbs 18:1 might go like this:

“Loners and arrogant know-it-alls think they’re in a class all to themselves and make few friends. They also have contempt for any wisdom that doesn’t come from themselves and are always trying to meddle with or subvert it to gain an advantage.”

Would you have interpreted it differently?


Let Our Words Be Few

Proverbs 17:27

“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.”

Our Words

For years, it was said that women would speak about 20,000 words per day while men only speak around 7,000. But, more and more research is showing that nowadays men and women are both speaking around 16,000 words per day.

Some of those words that are spoken are very well thought out, while others are just blurted out.

Mark Twain said,

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Solomon is warning us to learn how to restrain our words and to keep a level head. The ESV says our verse this way, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

Proverbs, and the Bible for that matter, is full of wisdom on how we should use our words.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 reiterates Proverbs 17:27, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”

The words in Ecclesiastes are talking about making promises or saying hasty words straight to God but I believe that we can carry this over to our communication with those around us. We should take the time to think about our words and not just “shoot off” at the mouth.

Keep Calm

As I was child I played baseball for years at a local recreational park. Each year I hoped that I would not be on one particular coach’s team simply because every call that did not go his way he would just go off on the umpires. To the point that many games he was tossed from the game! I guess you could say that he had a very short fuse. We all know something like that.

Solomon is saying in the second part of our verse that a man of understanding has an “excellent spirit” or has a “cool spirit”. Having a cool spirit means that one is not soon angry, but is calm,  and not easily provoked to wrath.

Are you a person of “few” words and of an “excellent spirit”?

Lord, I pray that you would make us all men and women of knowledge and understanding. May our words be thought out and spoken wisely and may our demeanors be calm and not easily provoked. May we live our lives in a way that would be pleasing to You!