Wisdom is the saw we use to cut our way through life. Without sharp saws, life is like cutting through a piece of oak with a butter knife. So how do we sharpen our saws? Answer: By spending ongoing time reading and meditating on Proverbs.
All of us make decisions that have great implications for the future. What we decide to do impacts our families and other people to whom we are connected.
It can be scary to consider how much impact our decisions have on the future, especially when we consider that eternity is at stake. What you do today, might influence where your children spend eternity.
And it is by no means a given that we make good decisions. People with good intentions make disastrous decisions every day.
So a central question becomes, “How do we avoid walking into the airplane propeller of bad decisions?”
The answer is “wisdom.” Wisdom is skill for living rightly. Wisdom is how we navigate life.
But like any skill, wisdom is not automatic. It must be learned over time (Phil 1:9-11, Romans 12:2). The skill of wisdom is learned by spending time in God’s Word, especially Proverbs. The book of Proverbs was given for the express purpose that we might develop discernment.
2 To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—Prov 1:2-4
A handy aspect of Proverbs is that there are 31 chapters: one for every day of the month. If the date is the 21st, then read Proverbs 21. When you do, take time to identify and reflect on at least one verse. For example, Proverbs 21:1 reads:
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 21:31
This Proverb reminds us that no matter how much we prepare for important events in our life, if God is not on our side, then all our labor is in vain. Proverbs 21:31 is a call to prayer.
Two questions follow. The first is, “How long do I have to study Proverbs in order to grow in wisdom?” The answer is, “The rest of our lives.” I believe that all of us – – especially those with leadership responsibilities — need to read a chapter of Proverbs daily until we die or Jesus comes back. Wisdom is that important.
If you’re a bit of a contrarian (like me), you might counter – – “So you read Proverbs every single day?” The answer is “no.” I miss lots of days. But I have a general habit of reading Proverbs. Sharpening my wisdom saw in Proverbs is a “go to” spiritual discipline that I have practiced over the years.
I would think that if — on average — you read the day’s chapter of Proverbs 3 out of 7 days every week (42.86% of the time) you would be on a good pace. The important thing is to observe the habit of reading Proverbs the rest of your life.
If you are looking for resources on Proverbs, I would make two recommendations:
- Dan Phillips’ book, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs is excellent. (For more see here).
- Derek Kidner’s pithy, Proverbs (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) is also gold.
Some of the below posts may jumpstart your thinking on how to read Proverbs.
Dig for Wisdom Like Its 1849 (Prov 2:4-5)
What Questions Did You Ask Yourself Today Based on Proverbs 12?
The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom (Prov 9:10)
Why Grooms Should Make the Wedding Dresses (Prov 24:3)
Be Thankful for Your Wife on the 31st (Prov 31)
Derek Kidner on Understanding the Genre of Proverbs
We Know You Don’t See Your Blind Spot. Duh. It’s a Blind Spot. (Prov 17:10)
Even in Laughter the Heart May Ache (Prov 14:13)
A Chapter of Proverbs Today the 29th (Fear of Man Will Prove to Be a Snare) (Prov 29:25)
On Not Grabbing the Dog’s Ears (Prov 26:17)
The Sluggard is No Freak
If Your Boss is Atilla the Hun (Prov 27:18)
The Meaning of Proverbs 17:6 – On the Beauty of Grandchildren
Two Classic Pillars of True Old Testament Religion (per Derek Kidner) (Prov 2:5)
Feeling Overwhelmed and Undermotivated? (Prov 6:6-10)
Where There is No Fear the People Perish: One of the Most Misapplied Verses in the Bible (Prov 29:18)
Who Are You? Don’t Be Too Sure You Know! (Prov 16:2)
Tim Keller on Proverbs
Before You Make this Loan, “Ask How God is God’s Credit?” (Proverbs 19:17)
Dream Big and Be Excited to See God Direct Your Paths in Unexpected Ways (Prov 3:5-6)
A Guide to Proverbs Within Proverbs (Prov 3:3-12)
Why the Circle Doesn’t Always Remain Unbroken (Prov 16:28)
Leaders Know How to Pick Up a Crumb and Carry It Into the Next Room (Proverbs 30:25)
Don’t Let Failure Give Way to Failure (Prov 24:16)
Sharpen Your Wisdom Saw Today (Read Proverbs 18)
Frame On Why We are Sometimes Contentiously Foolish (Prov 20:3)
There are Two Ways to Deal With a Lion
The Fear of Man Lays a Snare (Prov 29:25)
A Time to Use the SW Word (Prov 10:19)
Ever Fall on Your Face Like Kurt Warner? (Prov 16:18)
Mark Twain: A Lie Can’t Get Half Way Round the World Before the Truth Even Gets Its Boots On (Prov 26:20)
Gossip Affects Your Spiritual Waistline (Prov 18:8)
Facing Some Orcs in An Adventure You Didn’t Ask For? Persevere (Prov 24:16)
If All Your Friends are Named Beevis, Guess What Your Name Is (Prov 13:20)
Set the Bar for Spiritual Disciplines Low
Teaching Our Children to Work