My pastor’s wife asked me an interesting question a few months ago during a small group meeting. She asked me what the ‘guide word’ was for our family. She said her family’s ‘guide word’ was truth. Over the last few years as our families have grown closer, I have been blessed many times to witness that guiding principle at work in their lives. I am sadly a bit more jaded, and perhaps a little too quick to dismiss ‘truth’ as a romantic ideal incapable of being properly held for too long in mere human hands. Truth seems to often exist as a matter of viewpoint and opinion, and not as a universal constant.
That being said, I had never thought about defining my family’s world view in the manner of a one-word term. Nevertheless, I knew immediately what the correct word was for us: wisdom.
From an early age, the story of Solomon inheriting his father’s throne has always intrigued me.
7 That night God appeared to Solomon. God said, “What do you want from me? Ask.”
8-10 Solomon answered, “…give me wisdom and knowledge…—for who on his own is capable of leading these, your glorious people?”
11-12 God answered Solomon, “This is what has come out of your heart: You didn’t grasp for money, wealth, fame, and the doom of your enemies; you didn’t even ask for a long life. You asked for wisdom and knowledge so you could govern well my people over whom I’ve made you king. Because of this, you get what you asked for—wisdom and knowledge. And I’m presenting you the rest as a bonus—money, wealth, and fame beyond anything the kings before or after you had or will have.”
As a young man, I saw this story as a wonderful starting place, and began to seek for the secret of life within the God-inspired proverbs of Solomon. Later, I would realize the ‘secret of life’ was actually quite well-covered in another writing by Solomon, Ecclesiastes. However, that is a story for another day.
When I first read Proverbs, I was amazed at the wealth of daily-applicable advice pouring out from the pages. And it’s all right here, screaming out in plain view just waiting for someone to listen. As a matter of fact, this exact idea is introduced in the opening chapter.
20-21 Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts.
At the town center she makes her speech…
22-24 “…Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?
About face! I can revise your life.
Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you;
I’m ready to tell you all I know…
Even as I grew older, I would revisit the book of Proverbs, often amazed at how many nuggets I had forgotten. One day in 2008, I read a comment from presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee. He said he had read a chapter in Proverbs every day since he was 18-years-old. Now, ignore whatever you think of Governor Huckabee’s politics for a moment and think of the beauty of this idea. There are 31 chapters of Proverbs and a maximum of 31 days in a month. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he believes, but this study approach resonated with me.
Yes, I am aware some months do not have 31 days. Thank you. Feel free to double up on the 30th, should you wish.
I am not going to tell you I get my chapter in every day, that would be a lie in that rare ‘universal constant’ way. That being said, I am able to grab quite a few each month. Usually, I read through slowly, meditate on the instruction, consider any application I could or should immediately make. After that, I will often have the chapter read to me on my phone while I listen and try to take it all in. I consider this a great daily starting point for prayer, Bible study, and introspection.
Don’t think of this as some sort of tortuous drudgery you have to complete each day to earn your spiritual gold star sticker from God. It is opportunity, possibility, and excitement that you get to freely access. Right now!
Maybe you aren’t very familiar with Proverbs. That’s why I’m going to give you a very small edited sample of what is waiting for you each day when you make the decision to dive in.
Dear friend, if bad companions say—“Let’s go out and raise some hell.
Let’s beat up some old man, mug some old woman.
Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look;
They’re racing to a very bad end,
God gives out Wisdom free,
is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding.
He’s a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well,
a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere.
You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom,
when you make friends with Madame Insight.
She’s worth far more than money in the bank;
her friendship is better than a big salary.
Evil people are restless
unless they’re making trouble;
They can’t get a good night’s sleep
unless they’ve made life miserable for somebody.
The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet,
her soft words are oh so smooth.
But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth,
a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.
She’s dancing down the primrose path to Death;
she’s headed straight for Hell and taking you with her.
You lazy fool, look at an ant.
Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
All summer it stores up food;
at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
How long before you get out of bed?
Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
Treat Insight as your companion.
They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress.
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
everyone out here on the streets!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
I’m telling you how to live at your best.
If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face;
confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.
So don’t waste your time on a scoffer;
all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.
The more talk, the less truth;
the wise measure their words.
The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
Good people are good to their animals;
the “good-hearted” bad people kick and abuse them.
A refusal to correct is a refusal to love;
love your children by disciplining them.
The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
will be an outsider at their celebrations.
The empty-headed treat life as a plaything;
the perceptive grasp its meaning and make a go of it.
Moderation is better than muscle,
self-control better than political power.
A wise servant takes charge of an unruly child
and is honored as one of the family.
Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
Mercy to the needy is a loan to God,
and God pays back those loans in full.
Switching price tags and padding the expense account
are two things God hates.
You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.
The poor are always ruled over by the rich,
so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.
Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines
or cheat orphans out of their property,
For they have a powerful Advocate
who will go to bat for them.
Don’t laugh when your enemy falls;
don’t crow over his collapse.
God might see, and become very provoked,
and then take pity on his plight.
Don’t work yourself into the spotlight;
don’t push your way into the place of prominence.
It’s better to be promoted to a place of honor
than face humiliation by being demoted.
You’re only asking for trouble
when you send a message by a fool.
Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow;
you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.
God has no use for the prayers
of the people who won’t listen to him.
If you let people treat you like a doormat,
you’ll be quite forgotten in the end.
If you’re dumb enough to call attention to yourself
by offending people and making rude gestures,
Don’t be surprised if someone bloodies your nose.
Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves,
gulping wine and swilling beer,
Lest, hung over, they don’t know right from wrong,
and the people who depend on them are hurt.
If any of this pulls at your heart the way it did mine, I encourage you to pick up this habit. Wisdom is the key to open many doors.
I wouldn’t get legalistic with it. If you sit down to read a chapter and realize you’ve missed the previous 3 days, don’t feel obliged to go back and catch up. Just start with whatever day of the month it currently is. Don’t give yourself the excuse that you do not have the time. Feeling like you have multiple chapters waiting on you could seem burdensome.
I hope this blesses you the way I feel it has me. Happy reading to all of you. Remember, my family is always recruiting for the wisdom ‘guide word’ team! 🙂
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