A STUDY OF WISDOM FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Shaping our Character with Wisdom
Proverbs 12:1-15 SCC 9/12/15
Verse 1: The person who loves instruction (discipline) will demonstrate this by willingly putting himself or herself in the place of a learner. But the person who does not want knowledge (hates reproof) will reject information that corrects his or her false opinions, and guards him or her from future mistakes and false steps, and will thus show his or her stupidity. This is information needed but not wanted! Loving instruction or hating correction is the baseline of one’s character.
PT: Discipline is essential for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Discipline is the life-giving reproof, which allows us to acquire understanding. This means we will not tend to get wisdom on our own without discipline. Someone using something must force us to learn to make the right choices.
CHARACTER RISES OR FALLS ON WISDOM 1-3
1. It produces conduct pleasing to the Lord v 2
Here the righteous person is described as a ‘good person.’ This ‘good man’ is contrasted with the ‘crafty man’. One obtains favor. The other is condemned. You choose. Watch ’48 hours’ if you need a word picture for this.
2. It produces stability in life v 3
The point is that only righteousness established stability in life at any level. You try to establish society or relationships or endeavors upon wickedness and evil and see what happens. It is begins to disintegrate. Chaos ensues, Pain and misery follow.
NB: Lets think about this for a moment. Good people are good because they delight in being good. They want to be good. Solomon does not see doing good as merely a result of discipline but consistently desiring to be good. A good man has a desire to only do good. The problem is, that’s not his only desire. He also has a sin nature which inclines him to do only what is evil. A good man is good because something inside of him desires for nothing but good not the absence of struggle against sin. This one has the Lord’s favor because his desires are consistent with God’s.
WISDOM IMPACTS OUR DOMESTIC LIVES 4-11
1. It cultivates a noble wife v 4
The moral character of a woman affects her husband’s enjoyment of life. The idea of being ‘the crown’ is that she adds dignity to him. A disgraceful wife, one who puts him to shame, lowers her own dignity eating away at her husband’s strength—rottenness to his bones. An excellent wife is the best thing a man can have this side of heaven.
2. It elevates the righteous and exposes the wicked v 5-8
First, the plans of both groups are impacted v 5. While righteous people intentions are fair and honest, the advice of the wicked is deceitful and self-serving. Both have agendas. Discernment is essential.
Second, the motives of both groups are impacted v 6. While the accusations of the wicked are designed as an ambush—lying in wait for blood—the righteous can make a skillful defense against false accusations. They can avoid the trap set against them.
Third, the security of both is impacted v 7. While the wicked traps, trap them they pass off the scene leaving no lasting legacy. The righteous have a legacy of good that outlasts them passed on thru others.
Fourth, the reputation of both is impacted v 8. While there is appreciation for one who has the capacity for clear thinking, those with warped reasoning lack the ability to see things as they are and so make wrong distorted choices everyone despises.
3. It dignifies daily life v 9-11
First, humility is better than pretension v 9. The point is that some people make a vain show of themselves by what they own, who they know, what they have done—pretend to be somebody—when modest comfort and realistic evaluation of self provides conveniences one pretends to have.
Second, compassion is extended everywhere v 10. The righteous extend kindness to all God’s creation while the wicked can only manifest compassion in a cruel way—may cut 2 fingers off instead of three.
Third, work is only valuable when it is pursuing something valuable v 11. Most retired people say something like: “I don’t know how I ever found time to go to work.” For most of us, being busy is easy. But Solomon would only consider that work good if it is working at something valuable to the general public or your family’s well being. Being busy at a hobby or a personal interest, which has no general value, is not real work. The question is: “Is somebody willing to pay you to do that?” If not, then it is probably not valuable work.
WISDOM MAKES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHICH PATH ONE’S LIFE TAKES 12-28
1. The difference between plunder and bounty v 12. Acquiring by devious means only means it can be deviously stolen by others too. The righteous is content to do honest work for an honest wage. Work is not something one attempts to avoid, or get out of, or replace with subsistence.
2. The difference between entrapment and escape v 13, 14, 19, 22. Our quality of life is impacted by the way we talk. The way we speak not only reveals who we are, it ensnares us in trouble, or helps us escape from trouble. Speaking righteously satisfies us and establishes our future. The tongue is a very dangerous thing, but Solomon does not conclude that we should therefore hate or avoid the use of our tongue. He says those who love it will eat its fruit. So indulge! It was Lincoln’s sword.
3. The difference between arrogance and teachableness v 15. A person will not be teachable when they are right in their own eyes. When people see themselves as right, they will give an answer before they hear. They are not open to knowledge because for them, they are set in their ways.
4. The difference between indignation and disregard v 16, 23. The fool makes a big deal out of some insult he received and is vexed. A prudent person ignores an insult not annoyed or drawing attention unduly.
5. The difference between thoughtlessness and discretion v 17-18, 20. Here is the ability of our speech that produces ministry to others. Ministry is serving people with eternal values in mind. Ministry for Solomon is serving people living on the land in Israel in the context of the fear of God. But for both Solomon and us, the way we use our tongue will determine the impact of our ministry—truth and healing vs. reckless words that deceive and wound people. Outward expressions of honesty or dishonesty are connected to inner moral integrity.
6. The difference between difficulty and protection v 21, 28. Decent people do not have frequent trouble of their own making. But misfortunes, difficulty, hardship, and problems, are often the outcome of an evil persons lifestyles, decisions, ambitions, and deceitfulness. They bring onto themselves. Life becomes a mean of damage control. Righteous living provides a much more permanent and stable life.
7. The difference between a job and work v 24, 27. The virtue of work is not just having a job but doing the job diligently. Often the biggest problem is not finding people a job, but keeping them on the job. Its one thing to want a job and another thing to want to work. Many middle class people have good paying jobs they don’t do diligently. They do just what the can get by with. There is an old management expression which says: “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.” It is a sin to work with a negligent hand.
8. The difference between callousness and counsel v 25-26. The idea is to seek to be an encourager. Become a weight lifter, lifting the burdens people are carrying on their backs. Tell a discouraged person what he or she needs to hear in order to gain a proper perspective and renew hope. Everyone needs a good guide. Conversely, the wicked cannot provide encouragement and counsel. Their path of life is incapable of doing so. Misdirecting themselves they can only misdirect others.
1. Wisdom is essential to developing character. Character must first have a foundation built out of chaos into order. Once order has been established character begins to take shape. If one is perpetually chaotic, like the fool, the wicked, and the evil person, character is developed but not by wisdom then more chaos.
2. Building one’s character is a personal endeavor. It is developed one decision at a time, one moment at a time, one opportunity at a time, based on one’s desire. Choosing wisdom requires determination.