17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19 So that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you. (Proverbs 22:17–19, NKJV)
We all need the guidance of wise counsel (Proverbs 19:20). Therefore, we should lean in and hear the counsel of the wise (v. 17). Furthermore, we should commit ourselves to applying our hearts to the wisdom we learn (v. 18). There is no greater source of wisdom than the words of God. We are made wise and gain understanding through them (Psalm 119:98, 104). By storing up God’s wisdom in your heart you are equipped to conduct yourself wisely (James 3:17-18). By being inclined to obtain wisdom and armed with dedication to live by God’s wisdom, we show our trust is in the Lord and not in ourselves (v. 19). And so, turn to Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” to satisfy your longing for wisdom (Colossians 2:3). Lean in and listen to the word of Jesus. Apply yourself to know, keep and speak His word. To whom else shall you go? He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
“Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” (Proverbs 28:7, NKJV)
Parents want to be proud of their children. Christian fathers (and mothers) endeavor to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The wise child knows the value of this parental training, and shows his discernment by keeping the law of God which he has been taught. Conversely, the son who chooses to share his life with those who indulge in riotous excess, shames his father. Sin always brings shame, not honor. That truth was on display in Eden, and continues to be so whenever we choose sin over the will of God (Genesis 3:7-10). Children who run headlong into sin not only shame themselves, but also their parents (and others who love them). “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). Teach your child to be wise in what is good, and to turn away from evil. Every child, thus taught, must choose to keep God’s will. Wisdom to do so begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). Making this wise choice will bring joy to your father’s heart: “Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, but a companion of harlots wastes his wealth” (Proverbs 29:3). Unquestionably, your obedience to God honors your father and mother (Ephesians 6:1-2).
20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. 21 She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: 22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:20–22, NKJV)
King Solomon personifies wisdom in this passage. She cries out in open venues, offering her instruction and blessings to all who will acknowledge her. But, she is not met with ready reception. Instead, she is met with scorn and mockery. A knowledge of her ways begins with “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). Her ways are held in contempt by fools; they hate the knowledge she offers (verse 22). And so, they live foolishly, spurning the rewards of her righteous counsel (Proverbs 8:8). Her words of truth warn of sin’s danger, but, fools “hate knowledge,” and “mock at sin” (Proverbs 14:9). Such foolishness primes one to be seduced and destroyed by evil (cf. Proverbs 6:20-29; 7:1-7). Listen to wisdom when she calls. She speaks truth. Her words contain righteousness. They are plain, and they are right. Knowledge of her ways is more valuable than silver, gold, and precious gems (Proverbs 8:5-11). The wise agree; the foolish mock. Which are you?
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3, NKJV)
Speaking God’s word in order to address the spiritual needs of men and women is an action of divine grace. And, that truth applies “to everyone who is among you” – divine truth knows no partiality. Therefore, we are warned against a conceited, arrogant frame of mind toward God’s truth. Arrogance prevents the wisdom of sound judgment. Truly, arrogance is an attribute of the fool, who prideful trusts in his own reasoning: “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (Prov. 18:2). Faith produces humility toward God’s truth, not hubris. Faith does not argue against God’s truth; it accepts it. Faith does not elevate human reasoning; it submits to the infinitely superior will of God. The word “soberly” in today’s text means “to be in one’s right mind” (Thayer, 612-613). When a Christian is arrogant, he is not in his right mind. We must have the mind of Christ (humble and obedient) – not the conceited mind of the world (Phil. 2:5-8).
To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom. (Proverbs 10:23, NKJV)
People take pride in sporting accomplishments, whether their own, or those of their favorite teams. An example of this is “March Madness,” the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, which is down to the Final Four this weekend. Fans are passionate about their favorite team, joyful in victory and dejected in defeat. Sometimes, fans mock and deride the opposing team as they support their own. When it comes to doing evil, many people act the same way. They delight in the pleasure, joy and excitement of sin. They deride the suggestion that their sin is harmful. But, it is foolish to take a dismissive attitude toward evil. On the other hand, wisdom directs the person of understanding to see the danger of doing what is sinful. The wise person knows the end to which evil brings those who practice it, and turns away from it. “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:14). God’s warning is clear: Do not make sport of sin. Only the fool does that.
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1, NKJV)
A woman has tremendous influence over her family. Instead of pitting one gender against another (like many do today), God created woman as His crowning achievement to complete what was lacking in man (Gen. 2:18-23). The wise woman knows this, and sets her heart upon being the strength that builds up her husband and children. She chooses words that comfort and soothe, that instruct and support the family in the way of righteousness. She is careful not to tear down her family with harsh words and critical comparisons. She holds godly values and goals which are informed and framed by the word of God, not the standards of this age. “She watches over the ways of her household” and “fears the Lord” (Prov. 31:27, 30). Ladies, please understand that you hold great power over the success or failure of your house. Bring to your home the faith and grace that allows love to flourish, not the strife and turmoil of sin that will surely pull it apart. Beautify yourself “with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God,” building up your house with the strength of holiness (1 Pet. 3:4).
47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47–48, NKJV)
Knowledge brings increased responsibility. At the same time, a person cannot plead ignorance to escape his or her personal responsibility to God. The master tells his servants what is expected of them, therefore, a servant ought to know his master’s will. So, even when the servant who failed to know his master’s will “committed things deserving of stripes,” he did not escape punishment. The “faithful and wise steward” is watchful and careful to do his master’s will (Lk. 12:37-46). Similarly, Christians are responsible for knowing the Lord’s will and being watchful to carefully do His will. We are warned, “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). Sins of ignorance are still sin against the Master’s will which call for repentance and conversion (Acts 3:17, 19; 8:18-24). Disciples of Christ have great spiritual blessings, and along with them, great responsibilities. The Lord expects us to faithfully do His will, especially since we know His will and have His blessings. To do otherwise brings upon us punishment with unbelievers (Lk. 12:46).