A Wise Man’s Words

According to Proverbs, the power of life and death are in the tongue (18:21). Therefore, everything we speak should be truthful (Proverbs 12:19, 22:20-21), gentle (Proverbs 15:1, 15:4, 25:15), gracious and pure (Proverbs 15:26, 22:11). Because our words are powerfully influential (Proverbs 11:11) they should impart knowledge (Proverbs 15:2, 15:7) and wisdom (Proverbs 10:11, 10:13, 10:31), and should feed and guide others (Proverbs 10:21). Our words should heal (Proverbs 12:18, 16:24), build up (Proverbs 14:1), and correct (Proverbs 19:18, 28:23); and yet, we should save our rebuke and correction for those who would listen (Proverbs 9:7-9).

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We should not speak falsehoods (Proverbs 6:16-19, 12:22, 26:28), gossip or spread secrets (Proverbs 11:9, 11:12-13, 20:19), sow strife or contention (Proverbs 20:3, 25:23-24, 26:17, 26:20-21), harp repeatedly on the mistakes of others (Proverbs 17:9), or speak rashly (Proverbs 12:18). We should not speak perversely, or contrary to the Word (Proverbs 6:12, 10:31-32), mislead or deceive (Proverbs 4:24), or slander (Proverbs 10:18, 26:22-26).

Elsewhere in the Word, we’re told that from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45); and that both blessings and curses ought not come from our mouths, because both fresh and bitter/salt water can’t come from the same spring (James 3:8-12). If the words that come from our mouth are an expression of what’s in our hearts, what do our words reflect about us? Are we wise or foolish? Are we full of love or hate?

I think one of the most important things for us to do, is stop and think before we speak. We’ve talked about this before, in the Characteristics of the Wise post, that we ought to be slow to speak. Our words have the capability to steer others (and ourselves) towards, or away from, the Father; to ignite a fire between friends (or brothers), according to James 3:4-6. And we will eat of the fruit, or bare the consequences, of what we say (Proverbs 12:14, 18:20).

For teachers of the Word, it’s even more important that we’re not misrepresenting the Word of God and teaching things that are untrue, for we’ll be judged by an even higher standard than others (James 3:1)!

We’re not perfect, and we will all stumble, and say the wrong thing at some point. However, we should do our best, relying on the Holy Spirit, to lead and direct us. And when we do fail, we should aim to correct, or apologize, when possible. Lastly, when others fail in their speech, we should pray for them, and ask God to help us extend grace towards them (Proverbs 12:16, 17:9, 19:11).

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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.

The Counsel of Elders

The other day I was flipping through my Flipboard (lol) when I came across this article about Silicon Valley and its Peter Pan Syndrome. Basically it’s a commentary, by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, on how most technology firms these days like to keep a staff of young employees and often force out their older employees (or refuse to hire them). Sonnenfeld noted that the median age of Google employees, for instance, is 29. He then went on to describe why this is a mistake and how much we can gain and have gained from people over age 35 in various industries. It was actually a great commentary that I shared on my Twitter feed. (Additionally, just after I began working on this blog, I came across a similar article in the Washington Post discussing ageism in the workplace.)

After reading and contemplating the content of the article, I began thinking about another person who thought that those older than him brought little to the table: King Rehoboam.

Now, king Rehoboam took the throne after his father Solomon, son of David, son of Jesse (don’t ask me why I felt like providing the geneology, lol, maybe I had too much coffee), and Rehoboam had some pretty big shoes to fill. But in 2 Chronicles 10, we read about how after Solomon’s death, the people of Israel come to Rehoboam and request that their load be lightened–labor and tax-wise–and he tells them to let him think about it, and he’d have a response for them in three days. King Rehoboam first asks his father’s advisors as to how he should respond…

 The older counselors replied, “If you are good to these people and do your best to please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.” But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’” ~ 2 Chronicles 10:7-11, NLT

We all know how this story ends. Rehoboam, rejects the advice given by his elders and responds as his peers told him to, and this was the wrong answer! In fact, this is the determining factor of Israel’s split from Judah; creating the northern and southern kingdoms.

When I first read this, I thought, “what a spoiled rotten, thoughtless, stubborn, little teenager!” but then, I went on to read in 2 Chronicles 12 that Rehoboam was actually 41 years old when he took over the kingdom! He was a grown adult behaving as a child!

So, here I am, having just read these two things–the article/commentary and 2 Chronicles 10–and I’m recognizing how we can, at any age, fall into this trap of ignoring and holding in contempt, the wisdom of our elders. I believe that we can become so consumed in the way we do things now and doing things “the right way,” or our way, or improving upon the way things have been done, that we negate the people who have been doing those same things in generations past. By doing so we attempt to deny the skill, wisdom, and knowledge of those who came before us; when the truth is, we couldn’t do or wouldn’t have most of the things we do today, if they weren’t out there “doing” before us. We don’t create from scratch…we simply build upon the foundation that’s been laid before us.

Proverbs 4:6-9, NIV

Rehoboam’s elderly counsel were the same men that counseled his father; and according to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest person to have ever lived. So, why do we, like Rehoboam, think that our way is best, and deny the wisdom and counsel of those who’ve gone before us? Why do we think that those older than us have nothing to bring to the table or have nothing of value to offer us?

Now, this isn’t to say that we don’t have something new or better to offer, but that we respect and accept the fact that our elders laid the foundation for us to have what we have, have provided a path for the future, and are still capable of providing much insight and wisdom; much like we are doing for those who will follow us. Neither does it mean that we neglect to seek the counsel and wisdom of God, for as the Word says, “true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are His” (Job 12:13, NLT) and “God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; He looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God” (Psalm 53:2, NLT).

Therefore, let us not neglect or scorn the wisdom of our elders, but take it into consideration, contemplate upon the words and advice of those who’ve gone before us, and compare it to what the Bible says and let’s not act harshly, rebelliously, or rashly, but be considerate and respectful of the opinions of others.

If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit.
If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer. ~ Proverbs 9:12, NLT

Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to others. ~ Proverbs 12:15, NLT

Pride leads to conflict;
those who take advice are wise. – Proverbs 13:10, NLT

Wise people think before they act;
fools don’t—and even brag about their foolishness. ~ Proverbs 13:16, NLT

Walk with the wise and become wise;
associate with fools and get in trouble. ~ Proverbs 13:20, NLT

If you listen to constructive criticism,
you will be at home among the wise. ~ Proverbs 15:31, NLT

Correction

Wow! It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here. I’ve been really busy working on my Masters, but now I’m on summer break until August 19. 😀

First off, I’d like to mention how interesting it is that my last post was about being unequally yoked, and my last journal entry–which I was reviewing earlier today–was about the same topic. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 Paul told the Corinthians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. My study Bible says that Paul was most likely referring to the false teachers that were trying to lead the Church members astray; however, I believe Paul was referring to much more than that. Really this can be applied to all our relationships. Unbelieving friends, co-workers, or teachers can encourage us to act/live against what God’s Word asks/expects of us.  Now, it’s not that we aren’t supposed to have unbelievers as friends, but they shouldn’t make up our core group of friends or be those we seek for sound godly advice. Paul reminds us that we’re intended to be separate and holy, “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God;” in other words, we honor God by separating ourselves for His purpose and living according to His commands.

Paul then goes on to ask the question “And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols?” You may be confused by this question, but remember, we previously discussed that WE are God’s sanctuary. His Holy Spirit takes residence within us when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Therefore, God ought to be our focus; our life’s purpose should be to glorify God in all that we do. Unbelievers, however, put themselves at the center of their universe–making themselves an idol–and putting themselves before God. Today one of my Facebook friends 😉 posted a quote by rapper Shai Linne, it stated “It’s called selfism, the fastest growing religion.” I thought this quote pretty much summed up this topic.

Now, for what I really wanted to discuss!! 😀 TODAY, I was reading 2 Corinthians 7:2-16 and I was reminded that man has remained the same since the beginning. Paul was, again, speaking to the church at Corinth. He always had to correct and rebuke the members of the church, which amuses me, because I realize the early Church had just as many problems as today–even some of the same problems! But one of the many reasons I love Paul is that because he loved the Church so much, he was honest and spoke the Truth to them, even when he knew it would hurt their feelings or cause them to be angry with him. He would rather have people be upset for a short while on Earth, rather than spend an eternity in hell, because he’d withheld the truth from them. Paul wanted them to repent and have a heart (and lifestyle) change; his intent was not to hurt them, but to help them.

How often we get angry with those who correct us! Man is still the same today. We hate being corrected. However, usually, those who are correcting us, do so out of love for us. Paul constantly reminded the Corinthians that he loved them and was proud of them. He was so proud of them that he was bragging about them to Titus (2 Corinthians 7:14)! Remember God’s Word says He disciplines/corrects those He loves (Revelations 3:19). However, we often confuse correction for criticism, but there’s a difference between the two. When you hear correction, think “improvement” because correction ought to build you up and make you a better individual, or in this case, a better Christian; but when you hear criticism, think “fault-finding” because this individual is simply trying to tear you down. Therefore, the next time someone corrects us we ought to be “quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19) and remember…”Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20).