Apply wisdom

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"APPLY WISDOM:


FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Proverbs for the Road (3)
Reading: Proverbs 3:21-5:23


Theme/Thrust:

In view of the need we have to have our life controlled by wisdom,

I want to encourage us to:


  • take wisdom into out hearts, then

  • let wisdom guide and keep our lives,

  • let wisdom control how we treat others,

  • treasure the wisdom imparted to us as we grow in life,

  • realise the difference it makes to how we behave,

  • avoid following the wrong influences, and instead,

  • treasure the gifts God has given us.

By means of



  • building on the "Beans means" object lesson

  • illustrating how God wants us to be in the world but not of it , that we should have a different 'flavour' on the inside where we don't have to worry about the ways of the world -

  • noting how this then works outwards to shape guard and direct our lives,

  • showing how we take hold of wisdom and insight interiorising them, so that they shape the whole of life, elaborating on this to

  • note how we pay attention to, treasure and remember wisdom imparted to us as we grow in life,

  • noting how we can let it direct the way we behave,

  • bringing out the differences in behaviour patterns that are like light and dark, life and death - so

  • exhorting us to avoid following the wrong influences, rather,

  • exhorting us to treasure the gifts God has given us.

Introduction

[Recap on the "Beans means" object lesson…

We can indeed just like the beans get given different flavours,

so easily take up the ways of the world, its opinions, values, 'flavour'.

We can't avoid being in the world with its opinions, values, and 'flavour'.

Indeed when Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17, he prayed that they might be in the world not of it - his prayer was (v.15,

" I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to

keep them safe from the Evil One."
Instead we are encouraged to

Have A Positive Life That Can Deal With The World

Right back in Deuteronomy, writing about the great commandment Jesus was to later quote as to what we have to do in life , we are told,

" Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Never forget these commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates."

Proverbs 3 takes up this sort of call in v.21 with,

"Hold on to your wisdom and insight, my son. Never let them get away from you.

The reason,

They will provide you with life - a pleasant and happy life." (3:22)

Verse 4 has already said,

"Never let go of loyalty and faithfulness. Tie them round your neck; write them on your heart."

Better than the wearing of phylacteries of Deut. 6:8, is memorizing Bible verses.

But that only goes so far… It is easy enough to get God's Word into our heads. Memorizing, simply a matter of rote and repetition, is the way we learn multiplication and the tables of weights and measures.

To get God's Word into our heads only involves a learning process, but to get God's Word into our hearts - a much more difficult task indeed - involves a love process. God always goes after the heart.

So the thrust of v. 21 is get wisdom and insight into you heart.

Hold onto is expressed in some translations and the word so translated, in fact means to "watch or guard".

If we get what's in the heart right, it will guard our life.

And…,

It Will Make A Difference

Wisdom applied in the heart, is to have its then natural outward expression in life.

Positively expressed,


  • we are to do our best to help others with all that we have and are able to do.
    We are not to put it off. God won't look kindly on people who procrastinate to the point of criminal, negligible and uncaring inactivity.

[Judson and Eames story pp. 105-106 Exploring Proverbs Vol. 1]

Also, we are not to plan anything that will hurt others who trust us, nor argue with those who haven't hurt us.

The advice goes on to say in 3:31-35 (Living Bible),


  • Don’t envy violent men. Don’t copy their ways. For such men are an abomination to the Lord, but he gives his friendship to the godly.

  • The curse of God is on the wicked, but his blessing is on the upright. The Lord mocks at mockers, but helps the humble. The wise are promoted to honour, but fools are promoted to shame!

To Achieve this, we are to



Treasure and Remember Wisdom Imparted To Us

As We Grow In Life

We are to concentrate on and treasure the opportunity we have acquire wisdom from parents, role models mentors et al. as we grow and develop in life.

After calling for attention to this point, Solomon pays a tribute,

"For I was my father's son and tender and only beloved in the sight of

my mother (4:3)."

As we have already noted, Solomon learned from David, and Bathsheba

One of Solomon's instructors was Nathan, the wise, fearless, and farsighted prophet who was prominent throughout David's reign and in the early years of Solomon's reign. We can also be sure the precocious prince dug deeply into the minds and memories of Joab the general and Zadok and Abiathar the priests. We can picture Solomon cross-questioning the clever Hushai - David's friend - and drawing stories out of Benaiah and David's other mighty men. Nathan particularly would have had long sessions with Solomon to discuss the temple he was to build (2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15).

Solomon was grateful for all who had contributed to his sense of history and his deep interest in people, nature, and religion. But he remembered his father best: "He taught me also." More than anything else, David taught his boy to understand the Scriptures and appreciate diplomacy.
The wise man wanted to review five topics with his own son.

First, Solomon wanted to say something about the pursuit of wisdom: "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth" (Proverbs 4:5). But Rehoboam wasn't interested.

"Get wisdom! Get wisdom! "We can almost hear the edge in Solomon's voice as Rehoboam's shallow mind sorely tested his patience.



Secondly, Solomon wanted to say something about the passion of wisdom: "Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee" (Proverbs 4:6). Solomon apparently was using the marriage relationship here as an analogy.

Solomon was telling Rehoboam to take Wisdom as a man takes a bride. "Love her," the wise man was saying. "Engage your passions to Wisdom. Invite her into your life. Cultivate her strengths; court her counsel. Listen to her; do what she suggests. You'll never be sorry. She'll never let you down."

Thirdly, Solomon wanted to say something about the priority of wisdom: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7). How could Solomon get it through his son's thick head that nothing was more important in life than obtaining wisdom? Once he had wisdom he would have everything. Wisdom would guide and guard all his other choices and decisions.

Wisdom will decide what friends we make in life. It will determine our business choices. It will decide whom we marry and how we bring up our children. It will decide what we believe and how we behave.

Fourthly, Solomon wanted to say something about the promotion of wisdom: "Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her" (Proverbs 4:8). We must put wisdom on a pedestal. We cannot think too highly of wisdom.

There are two kinds of wisdom: the wisdom of the Word and the wisdom of the world. "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," the Holy Spirit declares (1 Corinthians 3:19).


Fifthly, Solomon wanted to say something about the prize of wisdom: "She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee" (Proverbs 4:9). A certain type of beauty and dignity is the ornament of every person who has acquired wisdom. A crown of glory adorns the brows of those who are in love with wisdom.

It is fashionable in some quarters these days to sneer at Harriet Beecher Stowe, American writer and abolitionist. Yet her hand rang the death knell of slavery in the United States. Many honour her. A crown of glory clings to her memory. Born in 1811 to a minister, she married a minister, and six of her brothers were ministers.

Harriet's book Uncle Tom's Cabin was founded on the higher wisdom of the Word of God. When her father was dying, he reminded his family of Hebrews 12:22: 'Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." The text made a deep impression on Harriet's mind and formed the backbone of her book.

As we treasure the wisdom imparted to us as we grow in life,

We Realise The Difference It Makes To How We Behave

It is a good and proper path for guiding life, for:


The Past

Solomon could say in v.11

"I have taught you wisdom and the right way to live."

The Present

"Nothing will stand in your way if you walk wisely, and you will not


stumble when you run (5:12)."

A hypocritical world may say, "Your way is too narrow.", but the way broadens out at the end when it takes on the infinite dimensions of eternity whereas the broad way narrows.

Proverbs 4:18 tells us, "The road the righteous travel is like the sunrise, getting brighter and brighter until daylight has come."

If we drive or fly towards the East in the morning, heading towards the dawn is like heading towards Heaven's eternal day.

At the close of a church service in Vancouver, British Columbia, a letter was read to the congregation from Dr. Northcote Deck, a former medical mission­ary and godly man who was dying from leukaemia. Knowing how far his disease had progressed and how much longer he had to live, the doctor had written the letter and sent it to the North American churches where he had found fellowship and support through the years. "Brethren," he wrote, "David speaks of the valley of the shadow of death. I have now entered the valley. But, brothers and sisters, I have found no shadows in the valley at all! On the contrary, I have found that the path of the just is as the shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day." What a way to die! Jesus Himself said, "I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).

Proverbs 4:19 provides a contrast: "The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble." The wicked Haman certainly did stumble and came to a sticky end after his schemes to get rid of he Jews in the book of Esther.

There is a sharp too, between the way of the wicked and the godly.

The wicked are as determined to do evil, so that they can sleep as the godly are to do good.


Going back to v.12, we find
It is a Promise (v.12)

"Always remember what you have learnt. Your education is your life."

- so "guard it well!"
Wisdom enables us to

Avoid Following The Wrong Influences

Verses 20-27 of chapter 4 give some very practical advice:

Pay attention to what I say, my son. Listen to my words. 

Never let them get away from you. Remember them and keep them in your heart.

They will give life and health to anyone who understands them.

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Never say anything that isn’t true. Have nothing to do with lies and misleading words.

Look straight ahead with honest confidence; don’t hang your head in shame.

Plan carefully what you do, and whatever you do will turn out right. Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don’t go one step off the right way.
Chapter 5:1-14 gives a classic case of what happens when some one follows the path of adultery – a frequent warning in Proverbs.
Instead, we are to

Treasure The Gifts God Has Given Us

Faithful love brings its own rewards.


We may not like it, but " the Lord does see everything we do. Wherever we go, he is watching.

The sins of the wicked are a trap. They get caught in the net of their own sin. They die because they have no self-control. Their utter stupidity will send them to their graves


.

Let's return to what is both an exhortation and a promise in 4:12,

"Always remember what you have learnt. Your education is your life."

- so "guard it well!"

And the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-9, are good words to repeat and close with,

" Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Never forget these commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates."





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