Sermon: Practical Proverbs Pt. 1

Written by Timothy

Sermon by Timothy Williams. This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

Practical Proverbs, Part 1
Year 2004

So often sermons can get lofty when we talk about issues that don’t necessarily apply to everyday life. So I went through and divided the Book of Proverbs into fourteen different areas of very practical things. Some of them we’ll stop and talk about, others we’ll read and take them for what they say. The ideal goal, of course, is to let the Holy Spirit apply them to our lives. The fourteen areas are:

  1. Don’t be simple.
  2. Do good if you can act.
  3. Pick your friends carefully.
  4. Move forward.
  5. Work hard.
  6. Add to knowledge.
  7. Enjoy commands.
  8. Use the same measurement.
  9. Watch what you say.
  10. Look for good.
  11. Be even tempered.
  12. Reality check Proverbs.
  13. Promote peace.
  14. The world does not revolve around you.

1. Don’t be simple.

Proverbs 1:1-6- The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: Pertaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding words of insight, for acquiring a discipline and prudent life. Doing what is right and just and fair. Forgiving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance for understanding Proverbs and parables, the sayings and the riddles of the wise.

If we apply the Proverbs and let them do their work, we will understand other things that even Jesus taught when he spoke in parables. Proverbs form a foundation for gaining wisdom and knowledge. The first thing that must disappear is your simple ways.

Proverbs 1:22- How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?

Most people live their lives with everything reduced to a couple little sayings. Even Christianity is so often reduced to “Just ask Jesus in your heart and then you’re on your way,” and that’s about as deep as it gets. We tend to have a Christianity that is so simple to live and to understand that anybody can apply it. Yet there are things in this life that are not that easy to understand. The kind of Christianity, the kind of relationship God calls us to live is a very difficult one to understand.

Proverbs 1:22- How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?

There are individuals who think if they have the words down they can just mock them back out and that’s all it means to be a Christian. We need to know that God is a lot more complicated than a few basic sayings and ideas we have in our head. Let’s not be simple in the way we conduct our lives, but realize there are some things about God that are very deep and will take a lifetime to fathom.

Proverbs 13:16- Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.

Not being simple means you stop and take note of what you do and where you go. Think ahead before you take a step. Someone that’s a fool in their folly immediately thinks and acts. He doesn’t stop, consider, and weigh the motives in his heart. He doesn’t weigh the circumstances.

Proverbs 14:15- A simple man believes anything…

Most people can be led to believe pretty much anything in a church if you lay it out logically enough. But the message of the cross causes a man to think. As we know in Luke 14:26 Jesus turns to large crowds and says things to cause them to think. In the book of John Jesus tells the crowds they have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Why did Jesus do that? He tried to draw people out of their simple ways and simple understanding. Simpleness is when people go to Scripture and decide what it says or they hear a man preach and they believe it because it sounds good. Don’t believe something just because it’s in print.

Proverbs 14:15- A simple man believes anything…

If someone lays it out logically enough or makes it entertaining and exciting, people will believe it. I know very few people who actually sit down and think about why they believe what they do. Very few can take an objective viewpoint and separate their beliefs from themselves for a moment. People should get before God and ask, “Why do I believe what I believe? Who is this Jesus that I claim to worship? Does it really match up and make sense?” A simple man believes anything but a prudent man gives thought to his steps. In other words, he stops and considers before he takes each step. Most of us have an idea or concept that we live our life by and we tack it on to everything we do. Yet a prudent man, a man of thinking, will stop and consider before he takes a step to determine if it’s really of God. So often people get a call of God and they just run out to do it. They don’t weigh each step they take. They don’t sit down and think about whether it’s really from God. This is why we see all sorts of disasters around us that take place in the name of the Lord. Very few stop and weigh each step they take before God. If they don’t then they wind up somewhere they shouldn’t be.

Proverbs 17:12- Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly.

Better to find a bear whose cubs were taken away than to enter some places of worship where people do not think with consideration what they do. Better to meet a bear that will chase you down in full fury and tear you apart than to meet a fool in his folly. Indeed, very little judging goes on in the church today. Very seldom does anybody say someone is a fool who should be avoided completely.

Proverbs 18:2- A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

Think about the typical Sunday school class, where people get together and go around the room discussing what a certain Scripture means. Everybody gets an opportunity to demonstrate what a fool they are. People say, “I think the Scripture means this.” Somebody else says, “I think it means this.” Then somebody else says, “Well, I read a commentary and it said it means this.” Everybody airs their opinion. They don’t delight in understanding what Scripture says and how God works and it applies it to our lives. Nobody delights in understanding; instead, they delight in airing their thoughts. A lot of Bible studies center around cookies, cakes, and coffee while everybody delights in feeling so spiritual because they got to share their opinions.

Proverbs 18:2- A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

What gives you pleasure? Saying something about God’s word or really knowing what God’s word has to say?

Proverbs 18:7- A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.

Simple people just say whatever they think and their opinion is true enough. Yet in the end it will ensnare their souls. We need to give careful thought to our simple ways and see that we don’t mock. We need to weigh each step very carefully to determine whether it is of God or not.

Proverbs 21:20- In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.

Those who are wise have more than enough wisdom for the day. Most people just try to scrape together enough wisdom and understanding, enough blessing from God, to get through the week to next Sunday. But those who treasure the wisdom of God, who cry out to him, and are filled with his knowledge, have a home that is full of all kinds of wisdom. They may not be tapping into it today, but it is ready for tomorrow. They are like the pure virgins who brought along oil for their lamps and had extra oil for when things got dark. Jesus talks about the ten virgins—some were foolish and some were wise.

Proverbs 21:20- In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil….

The house of the wise contains delicacies people can eat in God. When things get a little dry or a little boring in the Lord, they can find this choice food and oil. They can feed upon manna and have the oil of the Holy Spirit so there is more than enough wisdom to go around. They’re not simple fools who just go to church and do their few simple things. Instead, they delve deep into the richness and understanding of God. After all, he is an eternal God. But we act as if we’ve got him down to a few pieces of paper. We sign the back of the Bible to become Christians and that’s about the depth of our wisdom and understanding.

Proverbs 22:3- A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Proverbs help us obtain a disciplined life. This one tells us to look ahead and have a little bit of faith. If you pursue a certain course and go a certain direction, what will happen? A lot of the counseling that Carla and I do is to warn people that if they pursue this course, if they continue to act in this way they will wind up in a bad situation. We need to see by faith into the future and be prudent. The simple just keep going—whether they praise God or whatever they do—and they suffer because they don’t consider each step they take.

When we’re simple in our understanding about God, we’ll begin to voice our opinion about what we think Scripture says. We find two or three Scriptures that work for us and then we think it applies to everybody in every circumstance, and it will bless their life. We are like Proverbs chapter 26:9 where it says.

Proverbs 26:9- Like a thorn bush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

He has a thorn bush but because he’s drunk he can’t feel the pain he inflicts upon himself or anybody else. A lot of people give out advice saying their thorn bush is a blessing and it feels great, but they only inflict pain on others. There are groups who see demons in everything. They run around casting out demons everywhere they go. They’re like a drunken man with a thorn bush and they don’t see the pain they cause. Others believe everybody should speak in tongues, still others think nobody should speak in tongues, and they use their wisdom like drunk men who have no feeling or understanding about what to apply to somebody’s life. If we tell someone a Scripture from the Lord let’s first think about how it will affect their life. What are the consequences if I tell them this is from the Lord? We need not be drunken men in our own gaiety and laughter, inflicting pain on somebody else because we’re simple ones who love our simple ways. We’re mockers who love to just mock the word. We don’t ask God what to say to other people. We are drunken men with thorn bushes in our hands, and we can’t feel the pain we inflict.

Proverbs 27:12- The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Wake up and see the many dangers that are around. Just today, I wrote someone to warn them that if they continue in church where they are now, where will they be ten years from now? They can’t see the danger that lies ahead, because they don’t live the crucified life.

2. Do good if you can act.

Proverbs is a book of action. You can take it, apply it, and grab hold of it. I remember as a young Christian listening to sermons but never learned how to apply it. Proverbs is the “how” that the Holy Spirit works in our lives if we give ourselves to him.

Proverbs 3:27- Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

When God places somebody in your life due to a certain situation you are there to act on their behalf. But notice what it says in verse twenty-seven.

Proverbs 3:27- …from those who deserve it…

We’re not simple ones who love our simple ways. We won’t give everyone everything they need. It says to give to those who deserve it.

Let’s consider everything we do and if it is within your power to act, if you have all that is necessary, whether it be spiritual or physical, then act.

Proverbs 3:27- Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

Proverbs 11:24- One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Here we see the concept of hating and despising money. Proverbs gives us the foundation to hear Jesus’ words about money and to see it that it is applied in our own life.

Proverbs 11:24- One man gives freely…

He always gives away and pours himself out; he always lays down his life and his checkbook is always open. He goes about doing good with great wisdom. He understands what to do and he’s always able to do it. Yet another withholds unjustly. He holds on to his money and he just gets poorer and poorer. Let us consider carefully the ways we walk in and what we do.

He is not compelled or pushed. He’s not bribed. He doesn’t have a little box in the bulletin to check if he wants to give fifty dollars. His life is free from the burden of money and the things in this world. He gives freely not because he has to tithe or because it’s necessary to get a blessing. He goes about his whole life giving freely and yet he gains more and more, not in terms of prosperity doctrine or a house. His treasures are more than money.

Proverbs 11:24- …another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

It’s just one of those facts in the Lord.

Proverbs 11:25- A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Paul often commends people in the New Testament because they refreshed the saints. Think of the situations that pass you by where you didn’t refresh somebody or strengthen them in Jesus Christ. Carrying the cross is a heavy load; it’s a tough walk for all of us. There are times when we can say something or just give them a look or a hug to refresh somebody out of a selfless love. Those who do so will be refreshed themselves.

Proverbs 21:26- All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.

Proverbs demonstrates that giving holds nothing back yet has great wisdom—it just doesn’t give to give. A wise man gives because he understands what God wants him to do. He gives freely without sparing, and he is blessed in his relationship with God because he is freed from this world.

Proverbs 25:14- Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.

I have known men over the years who promise to do something, send in money, or sacrifice time but it never happens. They’re like clouds that blow in. They look promising and you become excited, thinking God will work and then it just never materializes. We leave people empty; we need to look at our own words and promises. If we promise to serve, to be somewhere, or to give and then fail to do so, we are wind without rain, clouds without moisture. Such clouds cause nothing to grow or change, nothing to be any different. No one’s joy becomes greater.

Proverbs 28:22- A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him.

He’s just blind and ignorant as he tries to get by with whatever he can. Yet the righteous man gives freely all the time.

3. Pick your friends carefully.

There will be a division in a Christian’s life between who he fellowships with and who he will not fellowship with. Yet the church today has a simple understanding of what it means to be a Christian, “We’re just supposed to love. We’re just supposed to accept anybody who claims to be a Christian. We’re supposed to embrace people and never judge.” Yet everything about Proverbs calls us to make an evaluation, consider our steps, and think about what is prudent and holy in the Lord.

Proverbs 4:14- Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.

We must consider what makes a wicked path. We must judge whether something is of the Lord or not, and whether a person is righteous. You can tell where a man will go when he dies by the friends he hangs around. We need to judge, think, consider, ponder, looking ahead, and be prudent. We should think about what lies ahead on a certain course, what type of friends we choose.

Proverbs 26:6- Like cutting off one’s feet or drinking violence is the sending of a message by the hand of a fool.

We give wisdom, our opinion, and Scriptures to just anybody. Fools who do that are compared to someone cutting off their feet and then trying to run with a message. We need to consider who we talk to and what they will do with the message. When we share the gospel with somebody we should consider what they would do with the wisdom we give them. Is it like cutting off our own feet? Or will it end in our own destruction? Proverbs calls us to think, consider, and talk with the Lord to find out what course we take.

Proverbs 12:26- A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

A righteous man thinks about whom he calls a friend, and especially whom he calls brother. Yet the term “brother” and “sister” is just used so easily. It just rolls off people’s lips.

Proverbs 13:20- He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Paul tells us bad company corrupts good character. Proverbs tell us that if we walk with the wise we will continue to grow wiser, but if we walk with fools, we’ll become fools.

Proverbs 14:7- Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips

We need to decide whether a man is a fool and whether to avoid him or to stay with him.

Proverbs 20:19- A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

This directive is clear and plain. If you find a man who talks too much what are you supposed to do? Stay away. These clear directions don’t take much understanding to apply.

Proverbs 21:28- A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.

We hear people telling us stories all the time about certain groups or individuals. If you merely listen to a false witness you will die. It doesn’t say you have to agree with them, it says, “Listen to what he says you will be destroyed forever.” That’s hell. If I bring somebody into my house who tells me a story and I don’t ask myself if he tells me the truth or not, I’m a fool. I need to give thought to who sits down in my living room or who’s on the phone with me. If he begins to talk about people I need to ask if he’s a false witness. If he is, I do not listen to him. I send him out and tell him to shut up. I rebuke him or do what is necessary so I am not destroyed. The people we choose to associate with demonstrate where we will be in heaven. If you listen to gossip, if you like stories, if you like a false witness, that’s who you will be with forever.

Proverbs 21:28- A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.

Proverbs 22:24- Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man; do not associate with one easily angered,

Proverbs 23:20- Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,

Proverbs 24:1- Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company;

Proverbs 25:19- Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.

How quickly we run to anyone for help. How quickly we call somebody “friend.” We might as well rely on a bad tooth or a lame foot to get you where you need to go. Run to the Lord, not to the wicked.

Proverbs 28:4- Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.

They turn their back on God’s word, though they claim to know Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. Think about how much the wicked are praised and held up. How often we say we can’t judge and should embrace people who are wicked. The righteous speak up, rebuke, and tell a false witness to get out. They tell a gossip to shut up. They stand up for righteousness and holiness in the body. Who do you praise? Who do you look up to? Who do you love to associate with? Pick your friends very carefully because you will be with them forever.

4. Move forward

Proverbs 4:25- Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.

Look straight ahead. Don’t gaze around, daydream, or have thoughts that stray back and forth. Get your eyes fixed and focused so you understand where you will go. I know a lot of people run in different directions trying every new thing that comes along, all in the name of Jesus. They keep changing their ways. They’re not fixed upon Jesus Christ, they know not what to put their eyes upon. The cross is not before them and so they’re all over the place. We are to look straight ahead.

Be clear minded about the steps you take. Before you take a step, understand fully that the Lord has called you to this step. Before you embrace any belief, whether you hear it from this pulpit, read it in a book, or get it from Scripture, make sure your gaze is fixed directly and you understand whether it comes from the Lord or not. Do not try to stand before the Lord in ignorance and say, “I didn’t understand.” If we stand before God and say, “I took this step for this reason” or “I didn’t take this step for this reason.” God wants us to reason with him, not act like brute beasts or mere animals, doing whatever we feel comes natural. Understand clearly why you take or don’t take certain steps.

Proverbs 16:17- The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.

The way of righteousness is a highway; you move fast and strong; your gaze is fixed. Once you get the message of the cross down, and you know why Jesus called you, once you know what he wants to crucify, you can run with it. No one will distract you from it, unless you turn and look somewhere else. Most people don’t have enough of Jesus Christ and what God calls them to do to understand the course and the race. Paul says he beat his body to make it his slave; he runs the race with perseverance. He knows the course he is supposed to take. Paul even knew when he was to die and was able to say that a crown awaited him. He had run a good race, his gaze was fixed, and he could look back and understand his course. Paul knew exactly how God had dealt with him, changed him, and crucified him. He was able to stand before God having fixed his eyes, run the course, and completed the race. How many people do you know run aimlessly, back and forth in the name of Jesus, looking for something new and different? We should be very focused, very centered in on the Living God, and move forward. Don’t focus on what I give you to do or the goal you have in mind, but on what God has called you to do. When you have run the race, when you stand before him you should be able to say, “God, I know you called me to this work. This is what you called me to die to, this is what you called me to have faith in, and I will bring it to you having achieved that goal.”

Proverbs 17:24- A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

People look here, there, and everywhere for something new whether it is in the name of the Lord or not. Nobody wants just the old rugged cross. Nobody wants the crucified life. They want to look to the very ends of the earth for something more exciting to do, instead of running the race God has called them to run.

5. Work Hard

Here’s an area most of us may not like too well and that’s working hard. Proverbs 20:13 tells us we have to work hard.

Proverbs 20:13- Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.

This doesn’t refer to a food bank in your home or having plenty of food in your refrigerator. A lot of saints around the world don’t have food. This refers to spiritual food for those who are alert and stay awake. Ephesians says, “Wake up o sleeper and Christ will shine on you.” We are too asleep for him to talk to us. He begins to speak and we’re groggy. We’re not really aware of what we do or where we go. He tries to speak to us but we’re half asleep.

Proverbs 6:9- How long will you lie there, you sluggard…

Apply that to your quiet times.

Proverbs 6:9-11- …When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

Scarcity of spirit comes like an armed man and you will not be able to wrestle it back from him. He will break in and take any goods you have.

Proverbs 10:4- Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Some men run a sprint. Some men work hard for a few minutes or maybe an hour, but diligent hands keep on seeking after God. They never give up but keep persevering, Jesus said by persevering you bear a crop. This doesn’t refer to money but true wealth and true riches.

Proverbs 10:26- As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him.

There are people who you consider sluggards. When you give them a job to do, it’s like smoke in the eyes. You wish it would go away because it’s an irritant. It would be easier for you to do the job yourself than to ask them to do it. That’s the sluggard this Scripture refers to. Are you like that before the Lord? Would it be easier for God to do things himself than to give a job to you? Vinegar grinds and sets your teeth on edge. You’d rather not have to deal with people like this. Are we sluggards in God?

Proverbs 12:11- He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

Proverbs 12:24- Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

Proverbs 12:27- The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.

Do you want to know if somebody is a sluggard or not? Look at how well he takes care (or does not take care) of his things. Of course, there are greedy people who worship their things—which is a different situation. God has given each of us certain things that belong to us. How well do we take care of them? They may not be valuable in your sight—that’s the problem. Even if you detest something, it’s still a prize if it comes from the Living God. When God blesses us with something we should treasure it. If you only have one good, clean dress shirt in God, then prize it. Why should he give you ten more, if you can’t prize the one he gives you?

Proverbs 12:27- The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.

A lazy man doesn’t really care. It’s just food. He doesn’t bother to roast it. He has no appreciation of what God has given him. A man must give an account for all the gifts he’s been given.

Proverbs 13:4- The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Day in and day out, work and labor for God. Everybody wants a Christianity where you ask Jesus Christ in your heart, and it’s done before you walk out the door. This is the kind of diligence Proverbs calls us to, day in and day out. This is a love for God that never dies.

Proverbs 14:23- All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

The way this generation of children is raised doesn’t show that hard work brings a profit. We barely give them any hard work to do. When was the last time our children went to bed after a hard day’s work? We don’t believe this Proverb to be true ourselves, so we don’t apply it. We call hard work “chores.” We think of it as a pain and a burden. We bribe our kids by giving them a reward like watching a movie if they do their chores. We do not make them work for work’s sake. We do not consider work a blessing. God did a work and it is called the universe. One of the blessings God has given us is to work and labor. We are made in his image, to create and to be.

Proverbs 14:23- All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 16:26- The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.

Most people don’t use their hunger and desires for a benefit. Instead, they whine and complain. They say they want more of the Living God and more fellowship with him, but they don’t want to work at it. They don’t want to cry out or do anything. They don’t want to pray or study. They don’t labor or strive.

Proverbs 16:26- The laborer’s appetite works for him…

This appetite moves the laborer forward and causes him to work, but the sluggard can’t be moved to do anything. The sluggard whines about his condition and poverty but he will not put forth any action. So he comes to ruin.

Proverbs 18:9- One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.

Those who are not hard workers are brother and belong to him who destroys. Brother to him who would divide and cause trouble. It is hard work to keep the body unified. Scripture says to make every effort to keep the bond of peace through the Spirit—every effort! It takes hard work to keep bitter roots from growing in the body and keep Satan from doing his damage. It’s hard work to keep men out who are evil. It’s hard work to build the body up and make it strong. But how often we refuse to put forth the necessary effort.

Proverbs 12:24- Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

Let us wake up and work hard.

Proverbs 21:25- The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.

He has a craving that comes from the Lord. The craving is not evil. God puts situations in our lives so we will cry out to him, but we refuse to work. So we become a source of destruction rather than a source of blessing. We whine, we complain, we moan and groan. We say we don’t have faith. If you don’t have faith, go get some and put forth some effort.

Proverbs 19:15- Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry.

It’s amazing how a man who is lazy is sleepier than one who works. The lazy man thinks he works the hardest, because he’s lazy.

Proverbs 21:5-The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.

A fool presses forward as quickly as he wants to, but it leads to poverty. But the plans of the diligent, those who think, lead to a profit.

Proverbs 26:14- As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.

Sleeping come as natural and easy to a sluggard as a door swinging on its hinges. Finding a place of rest and comfort feels natural to him. When this body started everybody was naturally into their comfort. People brought coffee cups, took their shoes off, and put their feet up. You came in, sat down, and found your comfort zone. He’s there comfortably and naturally. It feels like home. He does it naturally in every way he can.

Proverbs 26:16-The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.

The sluggard sits around dreaming about life. He thinks he’s intelligent and he has all kinds of ideas. A sluggard appears wise in his own eyes because he uses his time to come up with a bunch of ideas. But he does no work himself. Whereas, the man in the field doesn’t have time to dream or come up with all kinds of ideas. He’s too busy working. The church has many sluggards who think they are so wise, because all week long they been busy thinking their own little thoughts and doing their own little thing in the world. They come to church on Sunday to share all their “wisdom” because they haven’t been doing anything. The person who is dying, laying his life down, and being crucified may not be able to get all the nice little quiet times or read all the little books. He’s too busy pouring himself out and worn out in bed at night to sit down and think about anything except praising God for the work he did that day. But a sluggard has all kinds of time and he is not inspired by God’s ideas. A true man who has labored is beyond his own mind and reasoning. The ideas he gets come from God because he is too tired to think of any. A godly man experiences shipwrecks, beatings, prison, and riots. He doesn’t have time for daydreaming in his hammock.

Proverbs 27:9- Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.

What does that mean? Let our friendship be full of fire. Let it be rich and full of zeal. Let it be costly. Let it be risky. Plenty of men will give me their opinions, ideas, concepts, and advice. But a friend who comes with earnest zeal, is concerned for me, and has prayed to the Living God is a true friend. Someone who is filled with love, pours himself out, and whose emotions are worn out at the end of the day because we have been in fellowship, wrestling back and forth—that is a friend. That kind of friend brings joy to the heart. There are plenty of friends who will offer all of their wisdom and understanding, but not earnest counsel filled with love and fire.

It enlivens us, makes us rich, and adds spice to our life. How much more when one comes to us with earnest zeal? Not somebody who says, “I’ve got this idea for you.” But someone who has heard from the Living God and says, “I have this wisdom for you. I think it comes from God. Let’s test it out. I may be wrong, but I want God to work and I want him to bless. I want you to glorify God. Let’s labor together in what God has called you to do. I’ll be there with you and I will lay down my life for you.” That’s the kind of friend that brings joy to the heart. It’s hard to find, so we put up with fools and their folly, and we think that is the grandest friendship. Let us not become sluggards in friendship, but men and women full of zeal for one another. Who calls at two o’clock in the morning to just to say, “I love you”? Who calls at three o’clock in the morning to say, “I have something from God”? Who puts forth effort and is worn out at the end of the day by giving and serving others?

Proverbs 28:19- He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

Finish the work that is in front of you, before you go on to a dream. I know people who were called by God, but they haven’t even finished tending the field God gave them. They haven’t gone into that field and plowed, planted, and pulled up weeds. Why should God give them any more? Let us be wise and finish the work of the Lamb before we go on to our fantasies that only lead to poverty. Those are only our ideas. Get busy working and you won’t have time for all of the daydreaming.

Proverbs 8:19 it tells us to add to knowledge. It says this about wisdom…

Proverbs 8:19- My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.

6. Add to knowledge.

Knowledge is of greater value than money. For this reason Jesus Christ says money is detestable in God’s sight. Better to have wisdom and knowledge than money.

Proverbs 8:34- Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

So many people in Jesus Christ are in the same place they were in when they came to God because they didn’t learn daily and grow. So many sermons are preached the same way they were preached twenty years ago. God wants to pour out much wisdom and knowledge if we will watch daily. If we will be teachable and humble on a daily basis, we can be waiting and watching for what God wants to teach us. Ask God, “What do you want to show me? What do I need to be corrected in? How do I need to be humbled? What is the wisdom, oh Lord? What are you trying to show me today?” Ask him every single day.

Proverbs 11:4- Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 15:2- The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

It just puts forth, it just bursts out, and you can’t contain it.

Proverbs 15:7- The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.

Think about your conversations this week. What did you talk about? What were the main discussions? Have you spread knowledge? Have you increased the understanding of God’s word in the smallest of conversations? Jesus sat down with a woman at the well and asked for a glass of water and saved the whole town. He spread knowledge wherever he went.

Proverbs 18:15- The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.

This heart has a hunger and thirst for knowledge and wisdom.

A mocker gains wisdom and knowledge; only so he can spit it back out. He never really applies, lives, or understands it. He just wants to look important and feel safe. He acquires a lot of head knowledge, but it is not really in the heart. You can tell it by the friends he keeps.

Proverbs 15:12- A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.

In other words, he doesn’t mind putting forth all the wisdom. He doesn’t mind quoting Scripture, but he doesn’t want to be corrected with it. He loves to look spiritual, preach the sermons, read the books, and talk to other people, but he doesn’t want to be corrected.

This sometimes happens in the body. Somebody needs wisdom so they go to the weakest person in the body, because if they go to the strongest person something might be revealed that needs to be corrected.

Proverbs 15:14- The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

The mouth of a fool feeds on folly. Look again at your conversations. Do they increase wisdom or are they just foolish talk and an excuse for sin? Do you constantly say, “I didn’t know. I didn’t understand. I didn’t have faith.”? That is just folly. Either we will change or we won’t.

Proverbs 15:28- The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

Of course, a wise man guards and weighs his steps and thinks before he opens his mouth. But a fool just gushes out whatever feels good to him, whatever appears wise, is cute, or gets a laugh. Think carefully before you speak. Jesus said we would be judged for every careless word we have spoken. He wants us to think, reason, and wrestle things out with God before we open our mouths.

7. Enjoy commands.

This is an area the church just simply does not like anymore. People who claim to be Christians thoroughly detest this Proverb, and they don’t even know it.

Proverbs 10:8- The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Nobody wants a command anymore. We like suggestions, to be spiritually inspired, to convict ourselves, but we don’t like a command. We don’t like anybody with any authority saying, “This is right,” or “This is wrong.” Scripture says the wise in heart accept commands. When they hear the command, they reason, think, understand, and have prudence. They understand that the person giving the command speaks God’s word and it’s a command from the Living God. They treasure the command even though it doesn’t come across with the proper tone. Most people don’t want commands any more; they just want the preacher to entertain.

Recently a person complained because their pastor would only preach on things he was convicted about, like music or television. I asked the person, “What should he preach about? Something he is not convicted about?” She didn’t want commands or any type of directives. Even if the pastor was wrong, it made you think, sit down before God, and ask if it is right or wrong. But she had an attitude because she didn’t like the command. Yet those who are wise will pay attention. Certain things are right or wrong. There are some things you should not do, but someone else can. He who loves wisdom will love the commands and apply them to his life.

Proverbs 10:8- The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Men like to continue to talk and talk because then they never have to stop and just do it. Did you ever notice in the Old Testament that God commanded the Israelites to follow certain regulations about food but he never explained why? He just said certain food was unclean. We have not figured out the reason God told them not to eat shellfish was because they didn’t have refrigerators out there in the desert. We come up with all these reasons, but we don’t know if they’re right or wrong. It was just a command God set down. If it felt good to God it was wise for us. A wise person will accept a command without having to be told over and over again why. Think of the beauty of this even in a family. If you have a child that you had to explain the rules over and over to again, it makes the house miserable. If something is a command and the children know it comes from love and grace, then they accept the command and move on.

Proverbs 19:16- He who obeys instructions guards his life, but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.

I’m not telling you to accept a command just because it’s a command. Give it some thought and reason it out. Find somebody who will challenge you to obey something and then reason out whether you should or shouldn’t do it. Find somebody who will give you a bad attitude so you have to go back and wrestle out whether it is from God or not. Accept the instructions that come from God.

Proverbs 13:13- He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.

Will not God reward those who obey his commands? Just find out if it comes from God. Don’t throw something out just because it is a command.

Proverbs 19:27- Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Let us use the same measurement for ourselves that we use for others.

Proverbs 16:11- Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.

The weights we use in everyday life have come from God. Man did not create as much as he prides himself on. God set certain things down in his word and the same scale applies to everyone, whether pastor or member. Let us apply the same scale and the same demands to all men without showing any favoritism. Do not say, “Because this is my mother this does not apply to her.” The same commands and demands that Jesus Christ set down apply to everybody that we know.

Proverbs 20:23- The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.

How many differing weights exist in the body of Jesus? People think certain things don’t apply to certain people.

Proverbs 20:10- Differing weights and differing measures– the LORD detests them both.

The same standard applies to everyone. Someone today asked me, “Wasn’t that hard for you to apply this rule to somebody?” I said, “No, the same rule applies to me. God hasn’t let me off the hook and will not let them off the hook. Fair is fair.” The same weight, the same demands, the same scale, applies to everyone.

Proverbs 28:21- To show partiality is not good, yet a man will do wrong for a piece of bread.

When the gospel applies differently to different individuals, we suggest that different scales apply to certain circumstances or situations. So when a situation comes along in our own life and we don’t quite know what to do, we’ll do wrong for a piece of bread. But when we understand that God has a scale and a weight of righteousness and wickedness, and this scale applies to all men then when someone asks me to do wrong for a piece of bread I will say, “No because the scale says so.” The weight comes from God.

Let’s pray.

Father, work these things in our hearts by your Spirit. Crucify our flesh, Father, that we would seek to apply them and grant us life in you. Father, we praise you for your word that is clear. We ask, oh Lord, that you give us the grace and the power to live them fully. May everyone in this room, Father, be found waiting and listening for wisdom to talk everyday. Father we know not how to apply these things. Show us the course; show us the direction that you have called each of us to. May your name be thoroughly glorified. Amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.