Characteristics of the Wise as Found in Proverbs

Originally this post was supposed to be about the characteristics the book of Proverbs says we should look for in our friends. However, upon further review, I realized that we’re someone’s friend, and we shouldn’t expect something of others that we aren’t willing to aspire to ourselves. So, instead we’re going to take a look at the characteristics God desires to see in us–and our friends.

Based on the book of Proverbs, not only does God desire that we hold Him in highest esteem and reverence, He also God desires that we be…

  • Kind & merciful
    • A righteous man has kind regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10, AMP)
    • He who oppresses the poor taunts and insults his Maker, but he who is kind and merciful and gracious to the needy honors Him.” (Proverbs 14:31, AMP)
  • Ever-learning, or seekers of knowledge
    • “A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none [for his ears are closed to wisdom], but knowledge is easy for one who understands [because he is willing to learn].” (Proverbs 14:6, AMP)
    • The mind of the prudent [always] acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise [always] seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15, AMP)
  • Seekers of wisdom & wise counsel
    • Happy [blessed, considered fortunate, to be admired] is the man who finds [skillful and godly] wisdom, and the man who gains understanding and insight [learning from God’s word and life’s experiences], for wisdom’s profit is better than the profit of silver, and her gain is better than fine gold.” (Proverbs 3:13-14, AMP)
    • The wise will inherit honor and glory, but dishonor and shame is conferred on fools.” (Proverbs 3:35, AMP)
  • Forgiving
    • “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.” (Proverbs 17:9, AMP)
  • Humble
    • Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners, yet He gives His grace [His undeserved favor] to the humble [those who give up self-importance].” (Proverbs 3:34, AMP)
    • The reward of humility [that is, having a realistic view of one’s importance] and the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord is riches, honor, and life.” (Proverbs 22:4, AMP)
    • A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23, AMP)
  • Disciplined & obedient
    • Take hold of instruction; [actively seek it, grip it firmly and] do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. (Proverbs 4:13, AMP)
    • Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected]
      is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble].” (Proverbs 25:28, AMP)
    • “He who keeps the law [of God and man] is a wise and discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father [and himself].” Proverbs 28:7, AMP)
  • Righteous
    • “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just and righteous.” (Proverbs 3:33, AMP)
    • “The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs—how blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow].” (Proverbs 20:7, AMP)
    • He who earnestly seeks righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21, AMP)
  • Just
    • The violence of the wicked will drag them away, because they refuse to do justice.” (Proverbs 21:7, AMP)
    • “These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judgment is not good.” (Proverbs 24:23, AMP)
    • Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are unfortunate and defenseless; open your mouth, judge righteously, and administer justice for the afflicted and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9, AMP)
  • People of integrity
    • “He stores away sound wisdom for the righteous [those who are in right standing with Him]; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity [those of honorable character and moral courage].” (Proverbs 2:7, AMP)
    • For the upright [those who are in right standing with God] will live in the land and those [of integrity] who are blameless [in God’s sight] will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous shall be [forcibly] uprooted and removed from it.” (Proverbs 2:21-22, AMP)
    • Like a muddied fountain and a polluted spring is a righteous man who yields and compromises his integrity before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26, AMP)
  • Discerning
    • “Hear, O children, the instruction of a father, and pay attention [and be willing to learn] so that you may gain understanding and intelligent discernment.
      For I give you good doctrine; do not turn away from my instruction.” (Proverbs 4:1-2, AMP)
    • “The naive or inexperienced person [is easily misled and] believes every word he hears, but the prudent man [is discreet and astute and] considers well where he is going. A wise man suspects danger and cautiously avoids evil, but the fool is arrogant and careless.” (Proverbs 14:15-16, AMP)
  • Diligent
    • “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the negligent and lazy will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24, AMP)
    • The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, but everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5, AMP)
  • Slow to anger
    • “The [arrogant] fool’s anger is quickly known [because he lacks self-control and common sense], but a prudent man ignores an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16, AMP)
    • “Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger, and it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment].” (Proverbs 19:11, AMP)
    • Do not even associate with a man given to angry outbursts; or go [along] with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his [undisciplined] ways and get yourself trapped [in a situation from which it is hard to escape].” (Proverbs 22:24-25, AMP)
  • Speakers of truth, honest & reliable
    • The thoughts and purposes of the [consistently] righteous are just (honest, reliable), but the counsels and schemes of the wicked are deceitful.” (Proverbs 12:5, AMP)
    • Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is [credited] only for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19, AMP)
    • A false witness will perish, but a man who listens to the truth will speak forever and go unchallenged.” (Proverbs 21:28, AMP)
  • Slow to speak, or we think before speaking
    • A shrewd man is reluctant to display his knowledge [until the proper time], but the heart of [over-confident] fools proclaims foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23, AMP)
    • He who has knowledge restrains and is careful with his words, and a man of understanding and wisdom has a cool spirit (self-control, an even temper).” (Proverbs 17:27, AMP)
    • He who answers before he hears [the facts]—it is folly and shame to him.” (Proverbs 18:13, AMP)
  • Accepting of correction
    • The ear that listens to and learns from the life-giving rebuke (reprimand, censure) will remain among the wise.” (Proverbs 15:31, AMP)
    • Listen to counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.” (Proverbs 19:20, AMP)
    • When the scoffer is punished, the naive [observes the lesson and] becomes wise; but when the wise and teachable person is instructed, he receives knowledge.” (Proverbs 21:11, AMP)
  • Peaceable, or having a soft-spoken and gentle spirit
    • There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18, AMP)
    • “A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath, but harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1, AMP)
    • “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife and keep aloof from it, but every fool will quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3, AMP)

These are not all inclusive, and many of these have multiple Scripture to back them up, but for sake of time I maxed them out at 3 verses. Lastly, again, I encourage you to read the book of Proverbs on your own. See what other characteristics of the wise leap out at you, and share with us in the comments below!

Take care. May God bless you. And be sure to come back in the upcoming weeks for more on the book of Proverbs.

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New Wineskins

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” ~ Matthew 9:17

God is the father of creation. While His character will never change–for the Word says He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever–He’s continually doing new things in and through our lives (Hebrews 13:8). God doesn’t fit inside the box we try to contain Him in, nor does He do things the same way over and over again. Regardless of the routines or rituals we’ve set up in our lives, God is God, and He does what He wants, when and how He wants.

The verse above came to mind during prayer a few weeks ago, followed by Ezekiel 36:26-27.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. ~ Ezekiel 36:26-27

These two verses caused me to think about how, often, the longer we walk with Christ, we tend to forget the graciousness and loving-kindness of God. We hear and read of His sacrifice for our sins so often, that sadly, we sometimes become callous to its meaning. We no longer recall the love, thanksgiving, and joy that filled us at salvation; we’ve forgotten our first love (Revelation 2:4-5)!

However, God wants to do a new thing! And in order to do so, we need to have a heart of soft, tender flesh, and we need to be flexible, new wineskins! We must let go of “how things have always been done” and our fear of the uncomfortable, and allow God to break our hearts for what breaks His.

Ethical Values vs Emotional Desires

I was doing homework and came across this in my text. It’s what I learned the hard way and have been trying to explain to all the women in my life. It’s too good not to share!

Other than the most rigid people, most people will find themselves caught in a tug-of-war between their ethical standards and their emotional desires, or feelings, with the latter often leading to some breaking down of moral behavior at some point in their lives. I have a counseling practice, and I often tell my clients that feelings and emotions are like the interior design of a house–moving and poignant, even beautiful at times–but only truly useful if protected by the exterior and structure of the house–the walls and roof, which are the framework, like our ethical standards, values, and principles. Thus, although human beings are certainly emotional beings, individuals with high character are not driven to act solely on the basis of their desires and passions.

In fact, individuals who are motivated primarily by emotions are often emotionally unstable, not because their emotions are wrong, but because their values and principles are not well enough defined and/or developed to contain or regulate their emotions, oftentimes leading to the inability to control their impulses. For instance, an employee might become angry with his boss and feel like striking him, but the employee doesn’t because he values nonviolence. A person’s ethical values should then be the rudder of behavior, and although there are certainly times when people will be driven by passion, or will need to follow their hunches, emotions and desires serve people best when they aren’t chief in the decision-making process.

Another reason why it is important to understand the relationship between our ethical values and our emotions is because we often use our emotions to justify our unethical behavior. Cheating on a test is wrong, unless he test is too hard and we hate our teacher; adultery is wrong unless we’re in a loveless marriage, are extremely lonely, and fall hopelessly in love with someone else; lying is wrong, unless we need the day off and will only get paid if we say we’re sick, even though we’re not; violence is wrong, unless we’re provoked; and drinking too much alcohol is wrong, unless we’ve gone two weeks without and just had a very bad day. Thus, one of the primary functions of ethical values is to keep us on a good moral track, particularly when we find our ethical values at odds with our emotional desires and urges. Certainly there are times when emotions should lead, and we certainly do not want to become heartless in our application of rules. When someone is driven to act solely on the basis of their values or rules, they are often deemed rigid legalists. But when someone behaves in a manner that is solely driven by their feelings and desires, they are often deemed immature, volatile, and impulsive.

Martin, M.E. (2011). Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings, (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.