Walking Wisely Week 1: Can You Answer The Best Question?

Proverbs 1:1-7

"Son," said the store owner to his new employee, "wisdom and integrity are essential to the retail business. By 'integrity' I mean if you promise a customer something, you have got to keep that promise-even if it means we lose money." "And what," asked the teenager, "is wisdom?" "That," answered the boss, "is not making any stupid promises."

When I was a youth minister, I took a group of students to a youth conference at a church some of you may have heard of called, Northpoint. Andy Stanley was speaking and he asked a question. It was a question that was an awesome question for students but I realized then, it was just as important for adults. Andy apparently thought so too, and later did a sermon series entitled, “The Best Question Ever.”

The best question isn't how far is too far or how much is too much? It isn't should I do this or should I do that? The question is, WHAT IS THE WISE THING TO DO? And it is this question that the Book of Proverbs seems to be designed to help us with. For there is a great need for wisdom in our world today. A lack of asking good questions is destroying young people's lives before they start and making fools of adults as they live. A lack of wisdom destroys marriages, friendships, and churches. At its worst, it dooms our very soul.

Ben Franklin proclaimed, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of!” He was right but Ben didn't know how to truly finish. Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and the church at Crossroads the words, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NASB)” Don't waste time and to not waste it, know the will of God. The Book of Proverbs is the book which puts them together and points the way.

The book identifies Solomon, the son of King David and one who assumed the throne from his father. 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 tells the story of how he was granted wisdom by God. 1 Kings 4:29-34 notes how he became famous and wrote over 3,000 proverbs. And like other books in the Bible, it is a book of compilations. At the end, there is added, “the words of Agur, the son of Jakeh to Ithiel and Ucal (Pr 30:1-33) and of King Lemuel who was taught wisdom from his mother regarding a godly woman in Proverbs 31:1-31.

The purpose of Proverbs is declared in the first six verses, verses 3 poetically makes clear: “To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; (Proverbs 1:3 NASB).”
Solomon identifies 4 people who need wisdom:
1.Simple (or gullible) – Prudence (or insight(GW))
2.Young person - “Knowledge and discretion
3.Wise person - “increased learning”
4.Man of understanding - “wise counsel”
It is ultimately designed to help us all answer the question, “What is the Wise Thing To Do?

There are 31 chapters in Book of Proverbs. Many times, I have done a 30/31 day journey through Proverbs reading 1 chapter a day. That will be something to think about trying this summer. The first 9 books give a breakdown of the value of wisdom. The other 22, get into the specifics. Ultimately, Proverbs identifies that there are two different types of lives that exist in the world.
There is a PROSPEROUS LIFE. Proverbs 3:13-18 outline this life as the life of wisdom. To live the prosperous life, Solomon makes clear, doesn't mean one of wealth of glory, that would be inconsistent with Scripture. Solomon notes in fact... “her profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. (Proverbs 3:14-15 NASB)” In other words, knowing the WISE THING is better than the RICH THING.
Of course there is another life, we'll call it the PITFALL LIFE. Growing up in the 80's on Atari, some of you will remember a game called “Pitfall.” Like an Indiana Jones movie, you had to swing over alligator infested ponds and jump over gorges. While Solomon wasn't advocating running into the jungle, Proverbs 3:21-26 explains what a Pitfall life looks like. In his God-given wisdom, Solomon identifies 3 regular pitfalls:
1.Evil companionship (Pr. 1:10-19). Be careful who you are spending your time with!
2.The immoral woman (Pr. 5:1-14). The wise thing would also be to change this to man!
3.Laziness (Pr. 6:6-11). This would almost be a given if it Solomon didn't write it.
Let's play with this for a moment...You get yelled at by your...BOSS / SPOUSE / FRIEND...
A. Strike back physically (go to jail)
B. Strike back verbally (get fired / verbal abuse)
C. Do nothing
D. React with a peaceful, kind reply (Proverbs 15.1)

The value of Proverbs is that instead of wasting time trying through process of trial and error, and spending more on self help books than necessary, we have a resource that already contains the truth and wisdom we're looking for. After all, it isn't in the facts but the execution that facts become wisdom.

And the first place to start, Solomon says, is the place we just ended up with Job. You see, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” And that fear isn't a terror but a recognition, that our journey of faith starts where our last series ended: God is God and I am not.

Now since summer is upon us and we're all going so many directions, it seemed to me a "wise thing" to give you a challenge. I call it the WISE31 Challenge.

I want to challenge you, that even though we're on the go, you can still grow in wisdom. Read the Book of Proverbs through, one chapter a day for 31 days. Start now and you can get through it twice by the end of August or simply start in July and read 1 chapter a day for the 31 days of the month.

Don't waste time - walk wisely this summer!


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