Wisdom for Life
Duane Vander Klok
It may be true that nobody likes a wise guy. However, being a person who walks in wisdom is an entirely different matter!
Every one of us needs God’s wisdom so we can make good decisions and avoid the painful consequences of poor choices. No matter who we are or what we already know, each of us can grow in wisdom just as Jesus did (see Luke 2:52).
When God gave King Solomon the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. The Bible shows us how God honored his request and made him the wisest person – apart from Jesus – who ever lived:
“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart” (2 Chronicles 9:22-23).
Solomon became one of history’s greatest achievers and led Israel to its highest point. How? By receiving and applying God’s wisdom. It was the best thing he could have asked for, and it remains one of the greatest gifts we can receive today. “Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with it” (Proverbs 8:11).
The book of Proverbs was written for the purpose of “…for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young” (Proverbs 1:2-4).
While written initially for the young, the Proverbs are applicable to every generation and culture. They offer us timeless wisdom regarding our families, work, money, attitudes, friends, emotions, and much more. They are designed to help us make the most of our lives.
Throughout the book, the thoughts and actions of the wise are compared with those of the foolish. These comparisons offer sound advice that can help us avoid trouble and walk in God’s prosperity. As we receive the advice given and apply it, we can grow in wisdom.
Below are just a few of the many principles revealed in Proverbs – and each of them can help us apply wisdom to our lives.
Fear God – One of the most important choices we can make is to fear God, but many people do not understand what that means. We need to realize that God loves us and always wants the best for us! He does not want us to walk around afraid of Him. No! What He desires is our love, obedience, honor and worship. Truly, the fear of the Lord (respecting and reverencing Him) is the beginning of our growing in wisdom.
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance — for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:5-7).
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:7).
“The fear of the Lord teaches wisdom” (Proverbs 15:33 ISV).
Be humble – You will never regret keeping a healthy distance from pride. We know from James 4:6 that God sets himself against the proud, but shows favor to the humble.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud” (Proverbs 16:18-19).
“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).
Value knowledge and understanding – Wisdom comes from a combination of knowledge and understanding. Knowledge has to do with facts that are learned or experienced. Understanding is the ability to apply those facts and build on them.
Solomon stresses that hearing instruction leads to wisdom, and He tells us that we should never stop receiving instruction. He writes:
“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5 NKJV).
“Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it” (Proverbs 8:33).
“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning” (Proverbs 9:9).
Treat others well – Many people today are kind to others only when it is convenient or when there is something in it for them. The truth is, we should always treat people well – especially those in need – simply because it is the right thing to do. When we do, the Bible tells us we are blessed – and who doesn’t want that?
“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves” (Proverbs 11:17).
“It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy” (Proverbs 14:21).
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17).
Be willing to work – If something is worth having, it is also worth working for. Even knowledge and understanding are not gained through sitting around doing nothing. Solomon understood the value of hard work and said:
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10-11).
“He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son” (Proverbs 10:5).
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
Choose good friends – Friends have the ability to influence us for good or for evil, so it is important to choose our friends carefully.
“Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers” (Proverbs 4:14).
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs13:20).
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).
Avoid strife – Dealing with strife consumes a lot of time and energy. Friendships, marriages, families, churches and even nations can be destroyed if we allow minor conflicts to escalate. Solomon teaches us to avoid strife and anger:
“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife” (Proverbs 17:1).
“The lips of fools bring them strife” (Proverbs 18:6).
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3).
“For as churning cream produces butter and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife” (Proverbs 30:33).
You can see that the Proverbs are practical and fairly easy to understand. They are filled with so much wisdom that you will get the most out of them by reading them often. Because there are 31 chapters, you can easily read through the entire book of Proverbs each month by reading a chapter a day as part of your devotions.
While you are reading, I encourage you to pray and ask God to reveal His wisdom to you. As Solomon found out, wisdom is available for the asking. James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
The Bible tells us that the wise inherit honor (Proverbs 3:35); that they are strong and have great power (Proverbs 24:5); that the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18); and that the path of life leads upward for the wise (Proverbs 15:24).
Life is best when lived with God’s wisdom!
(All scriptures are from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated.)