Tag Archives: Knowledge

Just Zip It

Proverbs 12:23

“A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.”

My wife has an expression for the person whose mouth opens and gushes forth streams of idiocy which should have remained locked away in the reservoir of the heart.  She calls it, “a case of diarrhea of the mouth.”   Mark Twain must have had the same idea in mind when he famously quipped, “It is better to have people to think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT US? 

What is it about us, that we think we have to speak even when we have nothing of value to say?  Is it that hearing the sound of our own voice makes us feel important?  Is it that we want to be perceived as intelligent, wise and knowledgeable, able to speak authoritatively concerning any and every subject?  Or is it that we are threatened by silence, as if we must fill the space between us and the others around us with words, lest a moment’s silence should become an awkward void?

A PERSONAL ISSUE FOR PREACHER-TYPES

I submit that the issue of Proverbs 12:23 is of tremendous significance for myself and my fellow “preacher-types.”  We are absolutely the worst when it comes to feeling obligated to fill the air with words.  I have just come away from a Sunday afternoon, pastoral visit with a senior citizen, a widow in my congregation.  She, like many women of her age and station in life, is lonely and doesn’t have company in her home very often.  Therefore when I visit, she enjoys the chance simply to chat away about loved ones, some of whom I know, most of whom I do not.  As she reminisced this afternoon, there was a moment in which I could hear my own voice, rising above hers, commenting on something she had just said.  Maybe I was simply trying to let her know that I was listening, that I was engaged in what she had to say.  But probably not.  It’s more likely that I just couldn’t stand being out-talked for even a few minutes.  I thought to myself, “If I were listening in on this conversation, I would conclude that guy (me!) is quite a jerk.”

IN THE PULPIT

Oh, and how about in the pulpit?!  I once had a seminary professor who warned my class that the greatest danger for preachers in the pulpit is that we’ll be tempted to say things that simply aren’t true—treating biblical principles as promises, projecting guaranteed outcomes, and so forth.  Is that anything other than “proclaiming foolishness”?  I had another seminary prof who often remarked, “Anyone who makes his living from his religion will eventually lose one or the other.”  How many “hireling” preachers have absolutely prostituted their faith in the pulpit, proclaiming foolishness, just to earn a paycheck?

ZIP IT UP

The proverb above tells us quite bluntly:  zip it up!  You don’t have to say everything you think. You don’t have to teach everything you know.  You don’t have to win every argument.  You don’t have to express every opinion.  You don’t have to weigh in on every debate.  If someone asks you for the time, you don’t have to lecture them in the craft of building a grandfather clock. It is far more prudent to keep a reservoir, a storehouse, of wisdom inside, from which you pull out treasures only when necessary (Matthew 13:52).  Knowing our propensity for gabbing when wisdom calls for silence, the great Peter Marshall prayed, “Great questions stand unanswered before us, and defy our best wisdom.  Though our ignorance is great, at least we know we do not know.  When we don’t know what to say, keep us quiet.”

WHAT A WISE MAN!

Twenty years ago I recall an elderly Presbyterian gentleman giving some tidbits of wisdom to me and several other young aspiring pastors.  He said, “Men, for your first year in ministry, at each meeting of Presbytery simply sit and do not say a word.  No matter how important the issue, no matter how heated the debate, no matter how much insight you might have about the subject, for your first year you are to say absolutely nothing on the floor of Presbytery.  After you have completed one year of silence, then you may make your first motion on the floor.  Your first motion should be, ‘I move that we break for coffee and doughnuts.’  Then the entire Presbytery will think of you, ‘What a wise man!’”

 

A wise old owl sat in an oak

The more he saw, the less he spoke

The less he spoke, the more he heard

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?

 

  Father God:  Give us the grace of silence.  Through Christ our Lord:  Amen. 

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Stupid On Purpose

Proverbs 12:1

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

Instruction

We see over and over again in the book of Proverbs how Solomon is giving us instructions on how we should live our lives. He deals with different topics from money to adultery, from the fear of the Lord to temptation, from pride and humility to the wicked that are in the world. Each time he discusses a topic, he gives us instructions on how we need to handle each situation.

Instructions are very important. Instructions will guide us and help us to complete the task that is set before us. The Bible is our instruction manual and will guide us with ever step we take.

BUT…we must be willing to heed the Word of God and the instructions it gives. If we are to be more and more like Christ, then we must follow the instructions that are given to us in God’s Word.

Reproof

Dictionary.com defines the word reproof as, “An expression of censure or rebuke”. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”. This is what the Bible is here for – to keep us on the right path (Psalm 119:105).

How we accept instructions from God and receive reproof for the things we have done wrong, says a lot about a person. Dr. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way, “How we receive reproof and counsel is a test of our relationship to the Lord and our willingness to live by His Word.” (1)

We can see from past “Proverbial Thoughts”, that wise men love reproof – Proverbs 9:8 | Proverbs 9:9. Reproof by God’s Word helps us to stay focused on Him and to accomplish His will for our lives. Reproof helps the godly to mature in Christ.

Don’t Be Stupid

No one wants to be stupid (or at least not be stupid on purpose). But there are many people today that are living a life that is, well,  stupid. Why? Because they are not willing to take instructions or rebuke from God’s Word. The New Living Translation says our verse this way, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”

When we are not willing to listen to the wisdom of God and apply it to our own lives, we are actually saying that we know better than God on how we need to run our lives. We are pretty much telling Him to not worry about anything – that we have everything under control – and we don’t need Him! How stupid is that?

We must be willing to let God mold us and make us into what He wants us to be. Without His instructions (God’s Word), there is no way we will ever be able to be more like Him.

God, help us to love your instructions and have a willingness to heed Your words. Help us not to hate it when you rebuke us when we have done wrong against You. Help us to be godly men and women who seek your face and want to be more and more like You. 

Reference:

(1) Dr. Warren Wiersbe – (The Wiersbe Bible Commentary – page 539)


Balanced Diet Needed

Proverbs 10:21

“The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.”

Food for Thought

Think back 300 years. (I know, we all remember that time so well having all been there, but humor me.)

How many times did you hear about church scandals: pastors sexually abusing children; pastors sexually abusing men; pastors sexually abusing women; pastors squandering money on houses, cars, glass buildings, prostitutes, or televisions?

Sure, there was the occasional story of abuse, over-indulgence, and prostitution, but was it as rampant as today? If it was, it was never reported. For the most part, the clergy were serious, pious, devout men, many of whom preached more about hell than having one’s “best life now.”

Today, we can barely go a full week without hearing about some pastor or Christian leader caught in some scandal.

Why?

It would seem our world is going down in morals, over all, not just within the Church. What has happened?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Does this passage describe us?

Many church leaders preach a message people want to hear, not necessarily what they need to hear. But what has happened to those leaders? More and more often they are still trapped within or fall into sin, sometimes worse than many in the world.

Perhaps you have seen the rise in people leaving churches, moving between churches, or simply leaving Christianity altogether?

Why?

Like a hungry person wants some warm solid food, the spirit longs for words of truth and wisdom.

A good preacher teaches the truth of the Bible: that humans are sinful and in need of a Savior, that we need to live for God to have any real and good life (though we may receive pain and suffering for our faith).

Many teachers today preach: happiness, financial prosperity, “all people are basically good,” you can have it all, and/or all things are permissible.

A diet of only cookies will kill you before too long. A balanced diet will give you long life.

Messages preaching only goodness and cheer will lead you to destruction. Reproof and grace will lead you to everlasting life.

Father, give us ears to hear and hearts that yearn for truth. Strengthen our spirits with Your Word. Nourish us with Your guidance. Help us to endure the trials You send to strengthen, and help us hear when You correct us.


Reprove the Reprovable

Proverbs 9:8 

“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”

A Little Irony

In one way it seems counter-intuitive to be told not to reprove someone, but that is exactly what Solomon is saying. Some people refuse to be corrected.

It not only seems counter-intuitive, but ironic. Why would the “wise man” need to be rebuked? Shouldn’t we be rebuking the fool? It’s almost crazy, isn’t it? Don’t correct the fool, but do correct the wise: maybe we should dig into this a little further.

The Scorner

Let’s think about the scorner for a moment. Gesenius described the scorner as one who derides and mocks, maybe even by “imitating [the reprover’s] voice in sport.” In other words, the scorner could be thought of as someone who, when corrected, comes back with a “nah nah nah nah boo boo, I can’t hear you.” Trying to reprove someone like that is more likely to make you angry, rather than help him.

A scorner is also not likely to take kindly to the reprover’s suggestions. Scorners are proud and unwilling to hear instruction. They get offended at the mere notion they could be wrong. This kind of person is just as likely to become your enemy, calling you everything from “judgmental” to “self-righteous” in an attempt to hypocritically justify himself. Therefore, it is impossible to be a friend to a scorner, for they will only hate you when you wound them as a friend (Prov. 27:6).

The Wise Man

Isn’t it wonderful to encounter someone who accepts instruction and reproof? A wise man will accept rebuke because he wants to do what is right, not what is right in his own eyes. Instead of hating you, a wise person will say, “I love you!” They will see that by calling them out about a wrong only serves to keep them in the right.

However, we should be very careful when we attempt to rebuke others. If we don’t do it in love, then the wise will be able to discern our intent. Then, along with the fool who hates our reproof, we may end up losing a friend, as well.

A Prayer

Lord, help me to be teachable. Help me to love those who want me to succeed in life. Help me to never resent the one who loving points out my faults, so that I may change. 


Eternal Wisdom

Proverbs 9:1-5 

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”

Made-Up or From Before

Many in our world today will try to tell you that truth is what you make it. Wisdom is understanding how your world works for you.

In other words, make it up as you go along! You are what you want to be!

In a sense, that last part is true. We have a tendency to get in our own way, because we do not believe we can do something we are able to do. Or we do not believe others can love us. Or we believe that God cannot forgive us for what we have done.

But we know this is not true, because the Bible tells us so. We read just a few days ago:

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. – Proverbs 8:23

Wisdom, whom we have discussed is God and realized in Jesus Christ, was established in eternity. This means wisdom is not something we can just make work for us or discover in ourselves.

Built, Bread, and Wine

Jesus Christ proved His Godhood through the Resurrection and ascension. He has told us:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:2-3 KJV

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” – Luke 22:19-20 KJV

The Moral

Jesus of Nazareth has built His house (the Church), has killed the “beasts” (sin and death), and sent out His call (the Great Commission).

To leave “simple ways,” seek understanding, turn from foolishness, and find wisdom is to find Jesus.

Father, thank You for revealing Your Son, Jesus Christ, to the world. Thank You for Your Wisdom and grace, as revealed through Your Holy Spirit. Thank you for preparing a place for us. Help us to cling tightly to our Lord, and help us to introduce Your Wisdom to the world through love, grace, forgiveness, gentleness, and humility, as Your Son did for us.

 

071912


How Soon We Forget

Proverbs 8:14

“Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.”

Loss of Context

What has happened to Western society?

It used to be that younger generations listened to those who had gone before to learn from their wisdom. Previous generations have been through almost everything later generations endure, so they have an understanding of life that later generations do not.

Granted, the rapid growth and expanse of use of technology and information have made our world a completely different place than it was even 20 years ago, but though the context may be different we still go through similar circumstances.

Because of all of our new technology and understanding of how things work, it is generally assumed we know better today than in yesteryear.

However, Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

The context changes, but the circumstances remain the same.

Strength in Wisdom

It is baffling that, as a culture, we have largely left our past behind us. We do not seek the wisdom previous generations have gained.

This is baffling simply for the fact that, as today’s verse says, we get strength from wisdom.

It is easier to make decisions with a better understanding of what could happen.

It is easier to take the next step with a better understanding of what has happened before.

It is easier to help others with a better understanding of how people react.

It is easier to live when you do not have to worry about all of the variables, because others have explained some of them to you!

It should be apparent by now that the best source of wisdom and understanding, the best source of knowing how to move through life, is walking with Jesus Christ, living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Who better to seek advice from than the One who knows it all?

Great Lord, strengthen us in You. Give us Your wisdom, and help us to live it out every day. Help us to not forget to listen to those around us and especially to You.


The Interpreter

Proverbs 8:12

“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”

Hand-in-Hand

We cannot escape that wisdom is always paired with something else, whether it be called understanding, knowledge, discretion, or prudence.

Wisdom does not work unless it is put into practice. What does wisdom look like in practice?

It is not getting ahead of yourself, rather knowing your limitations.

It is not leaping before you look, rather knowing the right path … unless God has called you to step forward in faith.

It is not saying whatever is on your mind, rather knowing the time and place and how to speak your mind.

Witty Inventions/Discretion

Other translations also say “I possess knowledge and discretion.” Like James said, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:2) I still work on knowing when to share what I have learned, but the real task has been learning when it is okay to offend and when it is just offensive to speak. Clearly, I am not yet perfect!

I personally like the phrase “find out knowledge of witty inventions.” I like to turn a phrase and reveal hidden meanings.

For example, the Christmas carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one of my favorites, because it shares the gospel and has a great tune.

However, two years ago I learned the original meanings of most of the words expressed in the title and first line of the song. The title in modern English would actually be “God Keep You Strong, Great Men”.

Another example are political elections. Politicians on every side attempt to convince you to vote for them, and they most often use facts and data in ways outside of their original context. It takes discernment to find the truth in their inventive interpretations. It also takes discernment to be that politician and properly use facts and data.

Wisdom helps us discover truth and understanding in places we might not otherwise.

Wisdom can show us how interpret what is being said and done, and wisdom can show us how to present ourselves in word and deed.

Finding True Wisdom

Prudence and knowledge should lead us to realize that, as we are, we are unable to control ourselves, in word, deed or thought.

Wisdom should then lead us to realize that God, as revealed through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit, is the only way to find control and freedom.

Our Wisdom and Truth, reveal Yourself to us ever more. Help us to see past the lower and false wisdom of this world and see Your truth. Teach us understanding, discretion, and prudence. Make us more like You!