Welcome to week 5 of our study of the book of Proverbs, a journey to learning the way of the wise. We hope you are enjoying this study of Solomon’s Manual of Living and that you are actively walking through the book of Proverbs with us throughout the week either by following the study guide daily through social media or by following the study guide from the weekly email that comes out every Sunday. Today marks the halfway point of the study. By this point, there are some things that we hope you are starting to see clearly when it comes to living a wise life. First, as you read Proverbs you are seeing just how fun and helpful this book is, with profound truths, and good and practical advice for our everyday lives. This truly is the instruction manual for how to live our lives. You should also be starting to grasp what wisdom is and what it is not. Solomon clearly shows us the way of the wise and is just as clear on the unwise life of the fool. Every Sunday we have talked about what wisdom is and what it is not. Wisdom is more than knowledge or intelligence. You can be very smart and still not be wise. You can have a lot of knowledge and still not be wise. Wisdom is knowledge and the capacity to live it out. It is also painfully clear as we hit the halfway point of this study that humility is a huge key to us finding Godly Wisdom and that pride is the biggest blocker that keeps us from it, and this will come out in the key verse of today’s study as well.
Proverbs 14:26 Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a refuge for their children. 27 Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death. NLT
There it is again, “fear” of The Lord. Solomon brings it up time and time again, and I like to point out that something on repeat in Scripture is very important! Solomon is saying those who have reverence or respect for God are secure. God will be a refuge for their family, and did you notice what he said in verse 27? Living this way is life-giving…wow! Just for fun let’s read that in the Good News Translation.
Proverbs 14:26 Reverence for the Lord gives confidence and security to a man and his family. 27 Do you want to avoid death? Reverence for the Lord is a fountain of life. GNT
Today we are going to learn the key to living a life of Godly Wisdom. There is a trait that the wise have, that you and I can also have, that leads to our best life possible. So, you could say that today, we are going to be looking at the key to living our best lives possible! This is another thought that we want you to wrap your heart and mind around because it is one so many Christians miss or overlook. We tend to focus on the fact that found in Scripture is a way to Heaven someday, and a way to understand God and to learn His rules and commands for our lives, which is very important and very true. But there is more! God also loves us so much, that He is also laying out for us a better way to live today. There is a way for us to experience our best lives possible on this side of Eternity too and it’s laid out for us in Scripture. This is such a big deal. We will see it in our study today as we dive into another amazing benefit for the wise. It’s another major attribute of the wise. It is something you find in people that are succeeding in their professions and lives. I would go as far as to say this is the key to living a life in the way of the wise. Are you ready? The wise listen, learn, and are constantly growing. They crave advice. They can’t get enough wisdom! They are always learning, growing, and seeking wisdom. I’m really looking forward to diving into this with you because it truly will give us the key to finding and living out our best lives possible. But before we move forward, let’s take a moment and think back to Ken’s talk last week. Do you remember the verse he centered from week 4 of the study?
Proverbs 10:16 The labor of the righteous leads to life, the wages of the wicked to sin. NKJV
Ken really was challenging us last week, wasn’t he? As I sat and listened to him, and as we continue to study this manual for living from Solomon, I just keep seeing so many things that really are challenging for us people to accept today. We don’t like to hear that we have choices and responsibilities in our lives, do we? I mean it’s never our fault that we aren’t living our best lives possible. It is always someone else’s fault. Think about that for a moment. We see it in this statement from Solomon…the labor of the righteous leads to life the wages of the wicked to sin or death…this implies that we earn something from the way we choose to live our lives! As people, we can struggle to hear and accept this, but it is so important. So much of Godly wisdom is about our choices, living responsibly, and intentionally. We need to take ownership of our lives which is a huge challenge for so many of us to accept. It quite frankly is very opposite of what culture would push on us today, isn’t it? We have a lot of reasons why we can’t live a wise life, don’t we? I mean how could I live a Godly life when everyone around me is ungodly? How could I live a righteous life with all that is happening in politics, in culture, and even in the people around me? I mean, how could I live my best life in these dark times I’m living in? So much of wisdom will come down to us, intentionally living and accepting responsibility for our choices, actions, and lives. And I loved a statement Ken made towards the end of his talk, he was pointing to our heart conditions, and he said something very important. He said, “Your heart condition matters. Wisdom says to work on your heart.” He was talking about how we must prioritize our heart condition, and that we must make choices to care for our hearts. He told us we would be tempted to ignore our hearts and work on how we appear to others rather than working on the thing that leads us to our best lives, which is our heart condition closing with this point. The greatest challenge to your life isn’t other people, it’s you. This is so true and so important yet so many of us either don’t want to hear it, or struggle to accept it and we have a million reasons why it is everyone else, never us. It’s amazing how practical and achievable the way of the wise can be for us all if we are willing to make the choice to engage it. Ken’s challenging talk came after a very practical talk in week four, where we learned that we learned about God’s orderly design for our lives and the fact that the way of the wise is orderly, not chaotic. This means we not only have enough hours in the day but by making wise choices and living a Godly life we add hours to our days, years to our lives, and peace to our lives. Another challenging talk for those of us who live in chaos, in constant busyness, always chasing life, bullied around by life, our cravings, our emotions, and other people, just reacting to whatever happens next, rather than choosing to live inside boundaries, and priorities, inside of God’s design. At the end of that, we said that how our days and lives will look moving forward is completely up to us. Two straight weeks of being challenged with ownership of our lives and making the intentional choices to live inside the way of the wise. I wonder how you are doing with this. Are you doing ok so far in this series with these concepts? For so many of us, these aren’t new thoughts or concepts. We have the knowledge…the problem isn’t knowing it; the problem is choosing to live it out. And what do we know about wisdom? It is knowledge and the capacity to live it out. For some this is inspiring stuff to realize how attainable our best lives could be, but for others this can be challenging, to hear this stuff, can’t it? Frankly, it can bring tension and be almost frustrating to hear and I want you to see why this seems to bring tension or make us feel pulled in a few directions. It’s because we have a part of us that wants to live for God and another part of us that pulls us towards living for ourselves. Solomon actually says it will happen. We read this in our study, and I think so many of us walked out of these last two talks feeling this way. I do believe that Godly wisdom is so opposite of our human desires that it can frustrate our selfish parts that remain. Solomon says it this way.
Proverbs 10:3 God won’t starve an honest soul, but he frustrates the appetites of the wicked. MSG
So, if you are feeling some tension, or a little frustrated, my advice is to keep taking this stuff to God. Keep engaging in Godly wisdom and teaching. Remember in the times when you feel tempted to push away and go back to the way things were, that God loves you so much that He is giving you a way to live your best life possible on this side of Eternity as well. There is a better way to live life, focus on that. With that said, let’s get started. Today, we will talk about another key to finding and engaging the way of the wise. A person walking in Godly Wisdom will have this attribute in their life. The wise never stop learning, never stop growing, and are constantly seeking more wisdom.
One of the things I have enjoyed doing through this series is looking at two people, one wise and one unwise. This helps us see what the concept we are studying looks like in our everyday lives. I would like to do that again today. Remember, wisdom is knowledge and the capacity to live it out. So, let’s look at two people, both intelligent, both very knowledgeable about life, and both are Christian, so they also have knowledge of God and what God would ask of them but only one is wise. Let’s look at a few different scenarios on this concept of the wise never stop learning, growing, and constantly seeking wisdom. This means they listen, accept, and apply sound advice and Godly teaching to their lives.
Scenario 1 – Let’s go to the professional world. We have two people who are both very intelligent and knowledgeable in their professional world, but only one is wise. Both are struggling with their production levels at work, and both are approached by their boss with some training and development opportunities in the area that their supervisor sees that they are struggling with. Both must go to the training. The wise sits up front, takes notes, and then takes the information from the training and applies it moving forward, the unwise is annoyed to be there, sits in the back with no interest in what the speaker has to say, joking around, and gets nothing from it. The wise listen, receive, and move forward in a new way, the unwise have a very different outcome in this story and are probably looking for a job in the very near future, blaming their boss and others for why they struggled.
Scenario 2 – Let’s go to our personal lives. We have two people, both very intelligent, and both with a lot of knowledge, but only one is wise. Both are struggling with addiction and want to sit down with their local pastor to talk about it. They both walk in hurt and frustrated by this thing that can’t seem to get out of. They both want to offload emotion and feel a little better when they do. But both are surprised that the Pastor didn’t just stay in the Spiritual but challenged them to do some very practical work in their lives. The Pastor asked them to remove the thing they are addicted to, to stay far away from it! So, if alcohol is a problem, they thought the Pastor was going to agree with all the reasons they need to drink, but instead, the pastor challenges them to remove the alcohol from their home, to dump it down the drain. Then asks them to think through what triggers this behavior and choice to drink. If it’s pornography he challenges them to place filters and accountability software on their computers and devices so they can’t access it at all, and again challenges them to think through the things that trigger the behavior and lead them towards the addiction. Both thought coming to the Pastor would be a nice outlet and hey, it’s free and better than paying a counselor’s fee, and both thought the Pastor would validate why they can’t change. Both were not prepared for the Pastor to challenge them to change their personal lives so practically. But, while both weren’t ready for this…it is the wise who hears, listen, and apply the changes to their lives and does the hard work to break free and live a new life free of the addiction, the unwise don’t apply any of these practical choices, thinks the Pastor is a bit insensitive, even disappointing and moves on reasoning a way why they can never change.
Scenario 3 – Life and all its challenges keep happening. We have two people, both very intelligent and knowledgeable, but only one is wise. Both find themselves in very painful moments in life. They are tired and exhausted as adversity hits their lives. So, pain hits both of their lives, which shouldn’t surprise them because they both have the knowledge that life is hard, and pain will hit their lives. But it’s the wise who understand that as painful as pain is, they can learn and grow from it. They respond well, understanding that this is something to learn from and move forward better for it. They work through it, they learn, and they grow. The pain is painful, but it is a teaching moment, and they do something different because of it. They slow down and turn into the pain and ask what the Lord is teaching them through it. The unwise also understand that life will happen, and pain will come. They have that knowledge just like the wise do, but instead of learning, the unwise just get angry with life, angry with God, and turn away from the pain rather than towards it. This keeps them in cycles of pain that keep happening over and over again and only makes them angrier at how difficult their lives are, while never learning, never changing, never growing, and never moving forward in life. They do the same thing over and over again, never understanding why life is so hard. Now I could keep going because this is important, and we see this in so many scenarios of our lives but let’s stop and talk now.
Listen, wise people are open to teaching, they want to receive advice and teaching to be better people. They understand that they haven’t arrived regardless of how good they think they are doing in life. The foolish already think they are great; they think they know it all and therefore ignore others’ advice or direction. Solomon speaks of this a lot in Proverbs, here are just a few examples.
Proverbs 23:9 Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice. NLT
Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. ESV
Proverbs 18:15 Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights. MSG
The key to living the way of the wise is to seek advice, seek wisdom, seek learning, then listen and apply that wisdom to your life. Wise people want to receive advice and teaching to be better people. The foolish already think they are great and pretend to be able to do things, so they end up ignoring advice or direction. They never grow, because in their minds they have already arrived.
So, this leads to something that I am excited to explore with you today. We could say the wise, or the way of the wise is a person who listens to God’s guidance and lives it out. The wise listen to God speaking in their life. Now, let’s talk. Does God speak to ordinary people like you and me? Do you believe that He does? Does God speak to people in 2023, the way He did in Biblical times? So many of us will tell you we don’t hear from God. So many don’t believe He speaks to us today the way He did back in the day. But they don’t realize God is speaking to us every day. Do you believe that God is speaking to you every day? How does He do this? We need to talk about this because we want to be wise and to do that, we must listen to Him…but so many struggle with this. We don’t even know where to start when it comes to listening to God speak. We know we are to pray and read our Bibles, and we try but we don’t hear from God, and maybe assume He doesn’t speak or guide us today. I want to talk about this, if we want to follow God into a wise life, we best know how to hear and listen and apply.
Let’s start with this, God speaks to us in many ways today and is speaking to us each day. The question is not if He is speaking because He is. The question is are we aware? Are we listening? And are we open and actively living for Him? For most of us when we think about talking with God or hearing from Him, our first thought is prayer, this is a good thought. Prayer is very important and is a great way to talk and listen to God. We also know of the Holy Spirit, God in us, our counselor who speaks to us. This is another important part of our walk with God and hearing from Him. But I want you to understand that God speaks and is guiding us in many ways in life. I would like to highlight just a few of the ways our Bible explains to us that God is speaking to us each day. We will start with the obvious one and work out from there. The Bible is the major guide to our lives and the way God speaks is through The Bible!
God speaks to us through The Bible!
2 Timothy 3:16 Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. 17 Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. MSG
Listen, the question isn’t if God is speaking, the question is more than just whether or not we are listening. The question is are we able to listen, receive, and apply? Remember wisdom is knowledge AND the capacity to live it out. Every one of us wants to live our best life; we want to do well at this life thing. We want to have a healthy and vibrant life and relate well with people. The issue is these things will not happen if we do not seek Godly Wisdom. Today we are learning the key to finding this Godly wisdom is by having a heart that is willing to receive input or advice; a desire to study, and a craving to learn. Those living inside Godly Wisdom have a hunger or willingness to study the Word of God: to dig into the Word of God, to study the stories found in the Bible, its advice, and warnings, so that our lives are moved by the Word of God—His truth. In Scripture, we find hope as God promises that He is going to show us in all of Eternity someday and He is also laying out a way for us to live our best lives today! We need to understand this and seek out and engage God’s Word in a way that we are applying it to our lives. The Word of God, our Bible is a major way the Lord speaks to us today! I want to show you just a few things Scripture says about God’s Word before we move on, this is so important for us to see. David tells us God’s Word is our guide through life.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. NIV
Solomon tells us that God’s Word is perfect and protects those who follow it!
Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. NIV
In Hebrews we find that God’s word is living and active, diving into our hearts, thoughts, and attitude.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. NIV
Jesus says it’s those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice that are most blessed…
Luke 11:28 Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” NLT
I could go on and on, showing you how useful and important God’s Word is in every aspect of our lives, but I will end this thought with these words from James which echo so much of what Solomon teaches.
James 1:21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. 22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. NLT
The wise have a hunger for God’s word. They have a desire to learn and grow. They never stop learning and growing and a primary way they listen to God is through God’s Word. They never believe they have arrived but are constantly growing. But this isn’t the only way God speaks to us today. He also speaks to us through our lives and frankly, through the tough stuff, through the pain and adversity we face.
God speaks to us through life, through pain, and through adversity. I really wish this wasn’t true, but the reality is it seems to take pain and challenges in most of our lives for God to get our attention in any way, the Scriptures reflect that thought. David, a man after God’s own heart says it so clearly here.
Psalms 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. NIV
Psalms 119:67 Before you made me suffer, I used to wander off, but now I hold on to your word. GWT
I truly wish we didn’t need to experience pain in our lives to learn and grow, but for most of us, and I include myself in this, pain is a great teacher. The wise turn into their pain and learn and grow from it, when things hurt, they pay attention and change to do things in a new way. The unwise keep running from pain and continue to experience the same pain over and over, and pain continues to increase as they get stuck in these loops, not intentionally thinking through the loop their life is repeating each day. Pain isn’t fun, but in the end, it can be a great teacher for the wise.
Remember the wise understand they haven’t arrived. They will never stop learning, never stop growing, and are constantly seeking more wisdom. This is the key to living the way of the wise. Wise people want to receive advice and teaching to be better people. The fool already thinks they are great and feel no need to listen, learn, grow, or change. The wise listen to God and we are learning that God is speaking to us each day, right now, in the year 2023, and there are many ways that He speaks to us. The question is not IF He is speaking the question is whether we are open, listening, and aware of God, and if we are, then are we able to apply God’s word and guidance to our lives? We talked about prayer, and God speaking through His Spirit to us. We looked at God’s Word and the importance of it in the way of the wise and we just talked about how God speaks to us through the reality that we all will face pain and adversity in our lives. The wise learn from all of it. I know this could be a new thought but the way of the wise is a life of listening and learning and following God as He speaks to us, and I want you to see that God speaks to us in many ways. Check this out…in Job, we learn that God is speaking in many ways from pain, to dreams, to whispers in our hearts, to visions, to painful warnings. It’s just whether we are aware and able to recognize it or not…this is an incredible thought.
Job 33:14 For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. NLT
The question isn’t if God is speaking, the question is more than just whether we are listening, the question is are we able to listen, receive, and apply…remember wisdom is knowledge and the capacity to live it out. Every one of us wants to live their best life, but we must understand, we won’t experience our best lives if we are living outside of God’s design. We must seek wisdom. The key to living the way of the wise is to have a heart that is willing to receive input or advice; a desire to study and learn and change. We must be open and ready to change to live as God guides us to live. We must study and dive into His word. We follow sound Godly advice. We listen as life presses us and pain hits our life. We grow and understand that we haven’t arrived but are on a journey, always changing for the better. We never stop learning. Why? Because God isn’t finished with us yet. He still needs to deal with us and wants to reveal new and greater things to us as we walk through life. It is easy for us to be satisfied and stop learning. Especially around our faith and Spirituality. But Scripture says we must constantly be growing and learning. Listen to Paul’s words here, many Christians miss this.
Ephesians 4:23 Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. TLB
We must constantly be growing and changing for the better…this is the way of the wise found all through our Bibles. There is a real danger in thinking you have arrived, and many Christians fall into it. We haven’t. We are to be always learning and always growing. The danger of thinking you have arrived is it completely stunts you from ever becoming all that God is shaping you to be. He does this through all you are experiencing in life. The wise understand this and continue to learn and grow.
For so many people they come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior which is awesome! But then over time, they believe they reached some level of their Faith that is beyond others. They become proud and believe they have arrived. Others make the mistake of thinking asking Christ into their life means they have arrived, and don’t realize it is the starting point of new life. In either case, it means they stop growing and ignore God’s Word and insight about being a Christian! We are to be constantly growing. We must understand that our Faith life is a journey. You didn’t arrive when you asked Jesus into your life, your new life began there. That wasn’t the finish line, that was the starting point! God now has an opportunity to guide you to your best life…if you are listening and open to it! You aren’t elite and haven’t arrived if you have obtained a lot of knowledge about God, or if you have logged a lot of hours as a Christian, you constantly are seeking to grow, change, and develop all the way to the finish line which is the day you stand before Jesus, not the day you accepted Him into your heart. This is key to living your best life…constantly growing…listening to God as He speaks, and He will do so in many ways in your life. He will speak through whispers of the Spirit and in prayer. He will speak through His Word, through your life, through pain, and through all that happens around you. The key is listening, obeying, and becoming better for all of it. The wise understand they haven’t arrived. They listen, they learn, they can’t get enough advice and they pour into God’s word and guidance for their lives, with an openness to grow, change, and learn. The unwise not so much.
So, a couple of questions as we close today.
- Are you able to listen, receive and apply Godly wisdom to your life?
- Do you believe God speaks to you today?
- Do you believe God speaks to certain people but never to you?
- Do you have a desire to dive into God’s Word and learn from it?
- In what ways could you or do you hear from God? What could God be saying to you through this message today? What about through your life? Through your relationships? Through your pain?
- Now that you are thinking this way, are the same ways that God may be trying to get your attention?
- Do you have a willingness to grow?
- Are you open to change and live as God desires? The wise seek God, they seek advice, and they seek more knowledge to learn and grow, the unwise do not…do you seek this out?
- Do you believe your faith and life are a journey or do you sit still believing you have arrived?
- How could you begin to live in such a way that you could be more open to hearing from Your Heavenly Father?
Think about that today. God is speaking, the question isn’t if He is speaking to you, the question is are you aware, open, and able to listen?