A STUDY OF WISE LIVING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
The Impact of Wisdom on our Conduct
Proverbs 11 SCC 8/30/15
Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. Wisdom “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge knows how to use a gun; wisdom knows when to use it and when to keep it holstered. God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. Wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him. Knowledge must filter down to conduct and this is the point of Proverbs:
INTRODUCTION: The need for wise conduct…
Verse 1: Here is an example of the need for wise conduct; dishonesty in transactions. It’s a way to cheat customers. It’s not just an outward act but also a moral sin-an abomination to the Lord. Deceit is a condition of the heart and these scales teach us how God is interested in details of our life and action.
Verse 2: Wisdom is difficult to possess because pride undermines it. Solomon says pride has practical disadvantages. It will ultimately destroy you no matter its appeal and popularity. Everyone’s proud. Solomon says do not be fooled by that. Instead pursue wise living and conduct.
WISE INTUITION BRINGS STABILITY WHEN FACING HARDSHIP
Verse 3-8: Righteousness applied to hardships
1. Here is an affirmation of the value of integrity v 3. It is destructive to be duplicitous because being crooked will catch up to you causing more hardship. Integrity preserves one from having to ‘look over one’s shoulder.’
2. Righteousness not riches is more valuable when disaster strikes v 4. Wealth cannot protect from adversity or of any value in dealing with the judgment of God. He will not be impressed or appeased. Pursuing wealth without righteousness will not be profitable.
3. There are fewer obstacles and troubles with the righteous v 5. Life has enough of its own trouble. Why create more of it with the potential to ruin your life jeopardizing your future?
4. Ones sins will catch up with them v 6. Instead of deliverance and escape from hardships, the wicked can expect to be trapped in them, facing the music, and owning its consequences.
5. Neither wealth nor power averts death v 7. Any hope for a long life or success due to wickedness will bring incredible disappointment and usually not until it destroys you—notice ‘perishes’ twice in verse.
6. The trouble righteous escapes falls on the wicked v 8. There will be consequences for sure but while the wise escape them the wicked experience them.
WISE INTEREST CONSIDERS THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS
Verse 9-11: Community Relationships
1. Know how to avoid slandering your neighbor v 9. The righteous knows how but the wicked perpetuate hatred maligning their neighbor causing injury to relationships, reputations and wellbeing.
2. The public, though often making virtue seem drab, appreciate its benefits when it is to their advantage v 10. They rejoice when the wicked no longer can deceive, lie, rob, inflate and make life miserable.
3. Everyone prefers economic prosperity that the righteous delivers v 11. Instead of demise and ruin, people do generally desire the prospects of righteous dealings that bring prosperity and goodwill.
WISE PRONOUNCEMENTS ARE CONSIDERATE IN NATURE
Verse 12-15: What you say impacts others
1. Hold your tongue rather than deride your neighbor v 12. It makes no sense to deride your neighbor at work or next-door causing dissension and friction. If you have an issue or you know something to be true about your neighbor then either keep quiet or be discreet in dealing with it.
2. A gossip betrays trust v 13. Divulging secrets that should be kept quiet is malicious. Trustworthiness is a virtue Solomon harps on in Proverbs. A wise person will edit his speech and restrain his mouth.
3. Good counsel is essential for stable decisions v 14. If you are open to others opinions and insight this may assist you from some serious mistakes in life. Otherwise you could steer yourself into trouble.
4. Pledging financial security for another puts one in jeopardy v 15. Avoid pledges with another—maybe one unknown or outside close relationships—if you want to remain financially solid.
WISE CONDUCT DELIVERS RECIPROCAL OUTCOMES
Verse 16-23: Rewards of righteous, kind living
1. Wealth is far inferior to honor v 16. One can seize wealth by any means but ‘honor’ is the natural reward for the gracious and kindhearted person—here a gracious woman.
2. Kindness and cruelty both are reciprocal v 17. Recipients of kindness can return kindness while cruelty will boomerang harming the recipient and giver. Count on it.
3. Rewards in life can be deceptive or beneficial v 18. One might believe money will get him ahead but is deceived since it is susceptible unable to deliver while righteous living has temporal and eternal value.
4. Life or death is the result of moral choices v 19. Quit getting in harms way or else you die. Pursue righteous living please, for life only resides there.
5. One is inclined toward perversity or blameless v 20. The perverse entire spiritual being is influenced toward evil. The blameless are determined to counter this tendency and this pleases God.
6. Certain sinners are punished while posterity of the righteous is spared v 21. Children of godly parents are much more likely to be godly so best thing to do for our child is pursue righteousness ourselves.
7. A women’s physical beauty does not make up for discretion v 22. Without moral sensibility a beautiful woman misunderstands her value. Physical beauty is skin deep and no more.
8. The consequences of hope are determined by one’s moral character v 23. The wicked’s ambition centers in this life and hope it brings what’s desired is unrealized, leading to folly.
WISE GIVING IS GENEROUS GIVING
Verse 24-26: Generosity is encouraged
1. In Gods economy generosity determines prosperity v 24. Solomon says scatter our wealth rather than withhold it. We should look for true needs and make our wealth available to meet these.
2. In Gods economy generosity will be reciprocated v 25. Solomon is not saying every act of generosity will be rewarded with equal reciprocation. But that stinginess is based on foundation that ultimately results in want. Generosity recognizes wealth comes from and belongs to God. I am only responsible.
3. In God’s economy generosity always trumps greed v 26. Often giving is better than selling. Your prosperity resides in your relationship with Christ, which is eternal rather than the assets He gives you which are only temporal and could be lost, stolen, or used by others.
WISE DECISIONS GAUGE CONSEQUENCES
Verse 27-29: Consequences in kind
1. Goodwill and evil are both reciprocated v 27. One generally receives the consequences of the kind of life one pursues. Goodwill is returned. So is the distress and pain one gives to another.
2. Security and prosperity is determined by object of faith v 28. Material prosperity should not lead to materialism. Prosperity is no replacement for righteousness. Its helpful but should not be pursued.
3. Depriving one’s family and mismanaging ones accounts is distressing and enslaving v 29. One basically cuts off his future and aborts any gains. Now alone, bankrupt, and left selling self into slavery.
CONCLUSION: Wise conduct triumphs…
Verse 30-31: Righteousness wins
1. Righteous living is attractive benefiting others v 30. Here one is the source of a meaningful life for others who attract those around him to the wise life he is leading. Its outcome is attractive.
2. Since moral life choices are reciprocal choose righteous not wicked v 31. The point is to live with an eternal perspective, a day of reckoning and accountability before God.
First, wise conduct is practical conduct that filters into my everyday life. It effects where I live and work and raise my family. It impacts my relationships, ambitions, finances, and attitudes. Pursue wisdom.
Second, wise conduct pleases God and makes one the object of his generosity. Wise living produces a desire to be forward thinking so that the fulfillment your temporal hope does not outweigh the priority of your eternal hope only to arrive in eternity disappointed.