Category Archives: Wisdom

Control Your Anger

Proverbs 14:29

“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” (KJV).
“Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.” (NLT).

The Emotion of Anger

The Book of Proverbs gives us a smorgasbord of wisdom that applies to every area of our life: It gives us wisdom in our relationships, family life, dealing with finances and walking in righteousness. But it also gives us a window into our heart, and helps us to consider our emotions as well. In the above Proverb, Solomon addresses the emotion of anger.

Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. It is an emotion, and when we are treated unfairly, we are going to get angry. However, what we do with that emotion is what makes it good or evil. If we can control our anger, it proves that we have great understanding. But those with a hasty temper will make mistakes. I’ve seen people get angry and then do things that they later regretted, impulsive and often embarrassing mistakes. When we control our anger, we can avoid some of those blunders.

How do we control our anger?

So what is the antidote to a person who struggles with anger? It’s easy to say, “Stop being so angry!” But it’s another thing entirely to try to control those emotions in your own life. What is the answer then? I believe it’s found in a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a church in Galatia. He starts out by identifying the problem: “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21). He then gives the solution: “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23).

How do we get more of this fruit of the Spirit in our lives? Spend time with Jesus in prayer! Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Lord, help us to abide in the secret place of prayer, abiding in Jesus the Vine, so we can bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Amen!


The Evil Dead

Proverbs 14:19

‘Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good,
    and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.’

Slim Consolation

The Bible is full of good honest people asking the question, “Why do bad people prosper, and good people suffer?” This is a question that still haunts us now. The song writer Josh Garrels quips in his song ‘Farther Along’ – ‘Tempted and tried, I wonder why the good man dies, bad man thrives and Jesus cries cus He loves them both.’ The Bible also tells us that the bad, or evil will get their comeuppance. But when we are seeing the evil thrive very close to home while we also struggle to live the way we’d like, not to mention all our brothers and sisters all over the world facing persecution for Christ, this can be hard to swallow. This verse may provide some comfort in the thought that one day things will be made right, but what about now?

The Inconvenient Truth

Romans 11 verse 14 tells us that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, whether they want to or not! One day you may be falling to your knees in worship while the person next to you is having an uncomfortable moment of realisation and regret. What will you think in that moment? Will you be glad that the evil are finally about to get their just desserts? Or will you be wishing you had done more to help people see Jesus in this life so they are not surprised in the next?


Knowledge Looks Good On You

Proverbs 14:18

“The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.”

Making a Deal

When I was young, there was a very popular game show on television called Let’s Make a Deal. One of the most popular aspects of that show was the opportunity given to contestants to choose their prize. They could choose between what they were initially given, or take a risk and exchange it for something else…usually behind “curtain number 1.”

More often than not, the contestants would choose to take the risk – and it was a risk – and surrender what was in hand (even though they may have not know what that was, either) for whatever was hidden behind one of several curtains.

And, more often than not, as far as I can remember, the contestants usually ended up with something pretty silly, like a lifetime supply of toothpicks. On the other hand, there were those who made bank. “You just won a brand new car!

For those who wanted to take a risk and play the game, the outcome was still better than having never played at all.

But let’s just imagine if the “simple” person in this proverb was on a similar game show. What might we see?

“Let’s Get a Crown!” 

Imagine the simple man of this verse traveling to Hollywood to compete on Let’s Get a Crown!. Imagine him being selected from the crowd and being asked to “come on down” to the front to stand with the host.

After being selected as a contestant, Mr. Simple is given a small prize – a gilded toilet bowl plunger. Then, after a laugh, the game show host offers Mr. Simple a few curtains from which to choose, noting that behind each is a prize far more grand than the one already in his possession.

Host: “Sir, all you have to do is trade that gilded plunger for one of those curtains, and I guarantee, regardless of your choice, the prize will be far more valuable. Which do you want to choose?”

Mr. Simple: “Well, Bob, I think I’ll just keep my plunger.”

Host: “What? You could trade that plunger in for a chance at much greater things! Surely you’d rather walk out of here with a prize to be proud of, wouldn’t you?”

Mr. Simple: “Nah. I have what I have. It’ll do. I’m not leaving empty-handed, so why ask for anything more?”

Choose to Learn

We could approach Proverbs 14:18 from several different directions, but the one I would like to take is that of one who settles with ignorance rather than striving for knowledge.

Consider the word inherit in the first part of this proverb. It is in the “perfect tense,” which means the inheriting of folly is a completed action – it’s done.

The word crowned in the second part is different; it’s in the “imperfect tense.” In other words, it’s an on-going thing, not something that is finished.

The simple – the foolish – are content with what they know and are content in their ignorance.

However, the prudent understand the value of learning and are not content with the gilded plunger of ignorance! They are ever expanding the substance of their inheritance and continue to add to their estate and wear a crown to prove it…

…much like those who come here to learn a little more about God’s Word.

Knowledge looks good on you 🙂 


The Thinker

Proverbs 14:16

“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”

Warnings

As has been said many times on Proverbial Thought, the book of Proverbs is a book of warnings. Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, has penned warning after warning to help guide and direct us in the our lives.

The ThinkerThe Thinker

One of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures is The Thinker, a piece originally conceived to be part of another work. The Thinker was part of a commission by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to sculpt a monumental door based on The Divine Comedy of Dante. Each of the statues in the piece represented one of the main characters in the epic poem.

Wikipedia describes the statue of The Thinker as the following:

“It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle.”

Today’s verse reminds me of this statue. Here is why, and please stay with me. The name God is never mentioned in this verse. I thought of this statue because I believe that this verse is saying that a wise man is one who thinks before he encounters evil and is afraid of the consequences of his actions and therefore departs, or gets away from evil.

On the other hand, a person who does not think at all of the consequences just plows ahead no matter what it may cost him. He exemplifies the old saying: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” The ESV says our verse this way, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”

Count the Cost

When faced with evil, do you jump in with both feet before even thinking about what it may cost you? Or are you like the wise man, and ponder what would happen if you gave into the evil.

Solomon is telling us that we would be very wise to “think before we act”!

Next time you are faced with evil, stop and think about that it may cost you! Sin breaks our fellowship with God and when we really stop and think about what the results from that would cost us, I think you would agree with me that we would gladly depart from evil.

Lord, I pray that we would stop and think! In times of temptation and trials, help us to be cautious and turn from evil and back to you. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness for those times when I don’t think and plunder recklessly into evil. Thank you for your loving mercy toward me!


Playing God

Proverbs 14:12

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”

Marco Polo

Growing up, I played a lot of “Marco Polo” during the summer at my grandparent’s pool. If you are not familiar with the game, let me explain. It is a game that you play in water. One person is “Marco” and everyone else is “Polo”. The person that is “Marco” must keep their eyes closed while they swim around in the pool. They would call out “Marco” and everyone else must answer “Polo” and the one that is “Marco” has to listen to where the voices come from and try to swim and tag the “Polos”. Got it?

Well, one day, my brother and I were out in our neighborhood playing with a group of friends when someone suggested we play “Marco Polo”. I had never played outside of water before and was very interested in how the game would unfold. We decided to play in between my parent’s brick/concrete home and my neighbor’s brick/concrete home. It was a very small area with a downward slope toward my neighbor’s house.

The group of kids that were playing were all older than me, so you can guess who got to be “Marco” first. You guest it…me! Instead of us just keeping our eyes closed, the game rules were that the “Marco” had to wear a paper grocery bag over their heads. I took the bag and placed it over my head and quickly removed it and looked straight at my brother and said, “If I go down the slope and straight to the neighbor’s house, you better yell at me and stop me”.

You might be able to finish the story from here, but I will continue. The game was only a few minutes old when I just knew that I heard a voice straight ahead of me. Instead of trying to be aware of my surroundings, I just took off running toward the voice. I did not even think about the fact that I was running down the slope and straight toward my neighbor’s house.

The voice was right in front of me and then it happened. I ran straight into the neighbor’s house.  I then heard my brother call out, “Jason, watch out for the wall”.

Needless to say, a trip to the doctor’s office and the diagnosis of a concussion kept me from playing anymore “Marco Polo” that day.

Playing God

Why did I tell you the story about me playing “Marco Polo”? Because I just knew that the voice that I was hearing was coming from straight in front of me and that I was heading in the right direction. Was I? No, but I thought I was.

What happened? Remember how I told you that where we were playing was a small area between two homes? Well, what I did not take into consideration was in a small area between two concrete homes, there was going to be an echo. My friends were all calling out “Polo” and the echoes were bouncing off the walls and coming straight at me.

This verse reminds me of the day I got my concussion. I thought that I was heading in the right direction. I thought that I heard voices right in front of me. I thought, and that was the problem. We think that we know better and that our way is the best way and we just know for sure that “the voice is coming from this direction”! What does it come down to? We are playing God, and we think we know what is best for our lives.

Solomon is warning us to make sure that we do not try to do things our way, but depend upon God for everything. He is telling us if we decide to take things into our own hands that death will be the result.

My brother yelled at me after I hit the concrete wall. Solomon is yelling out to us before we experience death and trying to tell us to listen and follow what God wants for us because it is so much better than our plans or ideas for our lives.

Lord, help us to listen to You. Keep our eyes focused on You and may our hearts be soft enough that when You begin to talk and move us that we would hear Your voice and heed Your words.


Listen to the Teacher

Proverbs 14:6

A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.

Memories of School

When we were children we were regularly told that we would one day look back on our time in school as the happiest period in our lives. Really? As a child I knew that even a minute in school was wasted time. I was far happier outside the classroom playing on the rocks and the old fort at Grandes Rocques. It wasn’t that I scorned the wisdom of my teachers; it was just that I thought that I had better things to do with my time. I wasn’t the only one.

I recall the day that the headmaster took our class down to the old watchtower at Le Guet. The Germans used Le Guet during World War Two because of its commanding view out across the Atlantic. We were given tasks relating to the flora around the watchtower, but most of the class were back in the 1940s pretending to be either German or British soldiers engaged in a battle for the watchtower. When we returned to school and found out that we were expected to write an essay on the visit to Le Guet we had a problem because we hadn’t listened to our headmaster. To say that he did not appreciate our work is an understatement.

Legalistic or Simplistic?

While there are often pupils in school who are difficult to teach, surely that is part of the daily challenge for a teacher? This was a problem that Jesus would have recognized. Strangely, many of those who failed to listen to Jesus or benefit from His wisdom were the most educated men of the day. These Pharisees and teachers of the law were so focused on their legalistic approach to religion that they failed to grasp the simplicity of Jesus’ words. If only they had remembered this verse from Proverbs. “Knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23: 23-26 NIV)


Two Roads

Proverbs 14:2

“He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.” (KJV).
“Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.” (NLT).

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

  • I shall be telling this with a sigh,
  • Somewhere ages and ages hence:
  • Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
  • I took the one less traveled by
  • And that has made all the difference 

Often, the references to roads in poetry are metaphors to make us think of our lives and how we live them. Even Jesus used this metaphorical sense in talking about roads when He said, “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14).

Everyone wonders: how do we find the road to the blessed life?  Jesus said that this road is the road less traveled by – that there are few who find it – and that it will make all the difference, for this is the road that leads to life. I believe this is what Solomon was talking about in the above Proverb:

The First Road – The Wrong Path:

The first road that Jesus talks about is the wide road that leads to destruction. He says there are many people who walk on that road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who are perverse in their ways – those who take the wrong path – show that they despise God by walking on this road. It’s like God put up a big sign that said, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” and yet foolish people still choose that road. The road of sin, rebellion, and ultimately death. But there is another road…

The Second Road – The Right Path:

The second road that Jesus talks about is the narrow and difficult way that leads to life. He says that – sadly – there are few who find this road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who walk in their uprightness – those who follow the right path – fear the Lord. And here is the key to walking on the right path. It starts with a fear of the Lord.

To fear the Lord doesn’t mean that we are afraid of Him. However, it does mean that we respect Him, and when He says, “This is the way, walk in it,” we obey. Because we trust Him. And we know that the commands that He gives to us are for our own good.

Today, you are standing at a crossroads. Two roads diverge in a wood. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for those who choose the easy way. But the road to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few find it. Take the narrow road – the road less traveled by. It will make all the difference in your life!