Category Archives: Wisdom

Restrained Anger

Proverbs 19:11

“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (KJV).
“People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.” (NLT).

In Your Anger, Don’t Sin:

It’s not wrong to get angry. Anger is an emotion, and when bad things happen to us, we will feel angry. However, the Bible says, “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Eph. 4:26, NLT). So anger itself is not a sin, but what we do with that emotion is what makes it either good or bad. If we let that anger control us or we explode and hurt other people with our words or actions, we have sinned.

The above Proverb tells us that a man’s discretion (or good sense, NLT) causes them to restrain their anger. When they are hurt, wronged, or offended, instead of lashing out in anger, they pass over the transgression. They choose to overlook the wrong. Or – they forgive.

Increase our Faith!

There’s an interesting story in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is teaching His disciples about offenses and forgiveness. He said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:1,3-4).

What makes this story interesting is not just this hard statement about forgiveness, but how the disciples responded. They said, “Increase our faith!” In the past, Jesus had told them to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out devils, and they never asked Jesus for more faith. But when Jesus told them they had to forgive, they said, “We need help with this Jesus!”

How to Deal with Your Anger:

Jesus made it clear that offenses are going to come, and most of our anger comes from being hurt or offended by someone. We are living in a sin-cursed earth with hurting people who are hurting other people. So what do you do when you get hurt?

First of all, there is another Proverb that says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love.” (Prov. 17:9). To cover a transgression means you are willing to overlook it or forgive it. Because God has been gracious to us and forgiven us, we should extend grace to others and forgive them, too.

Secondly, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the one who heals our broken hearts (Luke 4:18). If someone hurts you, take it to the Lord in prayer and ask for His healing. Spend time abiding in Jesus in prayer, and allow the fruit of the Spirit – which includes peace, kindness and self-control – to replace the anger. Amen! Receive His healing and forgiveness, and be at peace today.


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.


The Only Way to Pass a Polygraph

Proverbs 19:5 

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.” (NIV)

There are people in prison today who are there because someone has falsely testified against them. Sometimes we read in the press about terrible miscarriages of justice that have taken place because one person gave false witness against another. While giving false witness is a terrible thing, even the smallest of lies usually has consequences. The trouble with lies is that they entrap us. When we are untruthful it is often the case that one lie leads to another. Although we are always hopeful of improving a situation through lying, lies are eventually discovered and those who lie or bear false witness have to face up to the consequences of lying.

I learned the lesson early in life. I had been forbidden to walk home from school, but one day I did. When I arrived home my mother asked if I had traveled home on the school bus. I told her that I had. Then she asked who I had sat next to on the bus. That stumped me momentarily, until I managed to pluck a name out of the air. Then my mother asked me if I had disobeyed her and walked home. I insisted that I had been on the bus. Unfortunately for me my mother had watched the bus stop outside our house ten minutes earlier and she knew I hadn’t been on the bus. I went to bed early that night. It gave me plenty of time to think about what I had done.

God is very clear regarding what He thinks about lies and false witness. The trouble with false witness is that it is bad witness. God calls His people to demonstrate His eternal investment in them through the way that they live their lives. Lying is not an acceptable component of a life surrendered to God. Jesus warned a group of Pharisees about the fruit of the mouth, and His teaching applies equally to us.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NIV)


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.


Prudent People Get It

Proverbs 18:15

“The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”

What’s Good for You

I’ve heard this preface to warnings all my life: “If you know what’s good for you, you will…” For example,

If you know what’s good for you, you will…

  • pay attention
  • look before you cross the street
  • blow on that before you take a sip
  • learn to say no
  • think twice before you say, “I do”
  • put that back and buy a cheaper one
  • stay in school

Solomon was simply saying, “If you know what’s good for you, you will seek and get knowledge.

Never Stop Learning

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Photo Credit: Katie Baker

The older I get, and the more I study, the more I realize that there is so much I don’t know. I have more knowledge than I used to, but I am always learning.

The prudent man and the wise man know that it never hurts to “learn all you can and can what you get.” The knowledge you acquire may not seem useful today, but only God knows the future.

 

 


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.


Still Waters Run Deep

Proverbs 18:4 

“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”

The deepest waters in our world are found in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The deepest point of the Mariana Trench is reported to be 6.831 miles below sea level. The trench has been explored during several scientific expeditions, but for most of us it is just a name on a map or chart, or an entry in Wikipedia. Despite the efforts of scientists the deepest parts of the ocean generally remain a mystery because of their inaccessibility.

rockpool 4But even a rock pool is a different world. Life is different in the water. There are strange creatures and unusual colors. To reach the best and deepest pools it is necessary to scramble out across the rocks at low tide. This is something I did regularly as a child. Although my friends and I returned often to our favorite rock pools, they were never the same. Each new tide brought changes, trapping different creatures.

And so it is necessary to explore and go deep when searching for words to use in our daily encounters with other human beings, and also with God. We have to be careful with words. We have to be wise users of language. We need to develop a wellspring of wisdom as a resource on which we can draw every time we speak.

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16 NIV)
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7 NIV)

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!