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.