What do we take pride in? In Proverbs 19:1-11 we see several things we should be taking pride and pleasure in. We see several areas where we can be easily tripped up such as spreading lies or taking credit for things that are not ours. Then, verse 11 makes an interesting statement. It is our glory to overlook a transgression. When other people sin against us, we are to take pride in our ability to forgive. We should have the best, most awesome, most complete forgiveness anyone has ever seen. That is what we can take pride and pleasure in. We are very much like Christ when we are forgiving others. As we strive to become more like Him, are we forgiving others as He forgives?

The mighty tongue! We all know that the words we say are powerful, but did we realize that life and death hang in the balance because of our words? Reading through Proverbs 18:12-24, we see verse 21. The words that we say have incredible impact and if we truly understood their power, we would be so much more careful with how we used our words. Solomon wants us to grasp the impact of the words that we say. Are we listening to ourselves and how we are coming across to others by what we say? Are our words a reflection of our relationship with Jesus Christ?

Why do we talk and why do we listen? Continuing through Proverbs in chapter 18, we see more contrasts between what wisdom looks like and what foolishness looks like. As I read through verses 1 to 11, verse 2 stands out. A fool doesn’t have any interest in learning more. A fool would rather talk to hear themselves talk, than listen to learn and gain understanding. When we talk, is it just so we can hear ourselves speak? ¬†Are we trying to impress people with our words? There is much greater understanding to be found in listening. If we will take our time to truly listen to the people around us we can learn a vast amount of other things. We begin to understand their motivation, their drive, their desire, not to mention all the specific content that we can learn. We must become Masters at listening to learn from others. We should not be listening solely so we can respond and hear ourselves talk.

Know when to keep silent. The rest of Proverbs Chapter 17, we see several other characteristics of wisdom in verses 10 through 28. One characteristic that strikes me is in verse 28, the very last verse in the chapter. This verse reminds us of the importance and the wisdom of keeping silent. There are times to speak out. There are times to share our opinions. There are times to stand for the things we believe in. But, there is also a time to be silent. Sometimes people are talking just to hear themselves talk. They think it makes them sound important to speak or to say lots of words. Wisdom is found in the right words spoken the right way at the right time. Learn to be silent and to listen to others. Not to just talk solely to hear ourselves talk.

There is no entitlement from birth. In Proverbs 17:1-9, Solomon continues giving advice about wisdom. Verse 2 stood out to me because there we see a situation where someone was born into privilege, but acts shamefully, so a servant ends up ruling over him. The idea of a servant ruling over a prince is crazy, but its not about birth, its about what you do. Do we get a sense of entitlement because of who we are or who we know? That doesn’t guarantee anything. We must continue to obey God and love Him, for only through Him can He direct our paths where He wants us to go.

We cannot know what is best for us. While that statement is contrary to what most of us believe about ourselves and our ability, God’s word says it’s true. As we read in Proverbs chapter 16, looking at versus 21 through 33, verse 25 really stands out. There is a way that seems right to us, but in the end it leads to death. Our best guesses and our plans are all flawed. There are several reasons for this. One of those reasons is that we are not perfect. We make mistakes and as a result, our plans have those mistakes in them. Another reason that our plans lead to death is that we cannot possibly know every potential outcome or variable that can influence our plans. We just simply don’t have that kind of knowledge. We do the best we can with the information that we have, but we will never have all information.

The question becomes, knowing that we cannot always choose the path that is going to be best for us, how do we respond? Will you trust the one who does know all of those things? His plan and path for us are perfect and he has a reason for every trail he leads us down. We trust him day by day even when we don’t understand the path because we know that he understands it and as we are obedient to him, we will be exactly where we need to be.

Do we love God’s Word? In Proverbs 16:14-20, verse 20 stands out. Most people are looking for the good things in life. They want their life to be filled with all that seems right and is pleasant. What the Bible says here, God’s word is the good in life. God’s word provides and instructs in all that is good. We have only to seek his word and to follow it to find the good in life. We can trust God. The verse actually ends by talking about the fact that the one who trusts God will be blessed. Are we seeking the good things that God’s word has for us? They’re found in our love for God’s word.

Why do we do what we do? In Proverbs 16:1-13, Solomon continus to share about the differences between the wise man and fool. In verse 2, it indicates that God understands our motives and judges us according to those, not just the action itself. In the business world, I talk a lot about business objectives (“what” someone does) and competencies (“how” someone does it), but God is also interested in the “why” behind what we do. We can often fool lots of people with regards to the first two, the what and the how, but we can’t fool God on the why. He will hold us accountable for the why behind our actions. Are we seeking to please Him in everything that we do? Is our motive to see orhers come to Him or for God to be glorified? Today, take a good, long look at the motives behind our actions and align them with God’s motives.

 

How well do we interact with others? In Proverbs 15:17-33, Solomon lists several types of relationships and discusses how we interact with each of those areas. Are we acting in wisdom? Are we slow to respond in anger or judgment? Do we act with humility? The way we respond to others is a reflection of our relationship with God. If we struggle with other people, often we are struggling interacting with God. Do we accept discipline from others? Do we display humility? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the respect of other peope we are around is the demonstration of that wisdom.

What will you give up to have God’s favor? Looking at Proverbs 15:1-16, we see several verses that deal with the a trade off. Which will we do, love God or love the world? Seek after wisdom or embrace foolishness? We live in a world today that wants to do both. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to follow God and have wisdom and blessing, yet we aren’t willing to give up the things of this world. We try to find ways to make God’s commands into more of a both/and instead of an either/or scenario.

Yet God’s word is very clear in these verses. We are either following after God and seeking wisdom, or we are living out the evil desires of the world. We must decide what we are going to sacrifice, for it will be one or the other of these. Will we seek the Lord and His wisdom, or will we feed on foolishness and selfishness?