"STUDIES IN THE PROVERBS" The Christian's Guide To Wisdom INTRODUCTION 1. The walk of the Christian is to be with "wisdom" as we go through life - Ep 5:15-17 a. Because time is fleeting, and the days are evil, we must make the best use of our time b. Too many people today are wasting both their time and their lives by failing to exercise wisdom in their daily lives 2. Since the Word of God claims to equip man unto every good work (2 Ti 3:16-17 )... a. It is only natural to assume that it provides us with sound advice concerning daily living b. And indeed it does, especially in "The Book of Proverbs" found in the Old Testament 3. The purpose of this series is to... a. Introduce "The Book Of Proverbs" as a source of great wisdom b. Encourage Christians to utilize this source in their efforts to walk wisely [Let's begin by examining...] I. THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF PROVERBS A. CLEARLY STATED IN THE FIRST SIX VERSES OF THE BOOK... 1. "To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding" 2. "To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity" 3. To give to the... a. Simple (naive) - "prudence" b. Young man - "knowledge and discretion" c. Wise man - "increased learning" d. Man of understanding - "wise counsel" B. THE BOOK IS THEREFORE DESIGNED... 1. To make a person wise! 2. To learn how: a. To act wisely and righteously b. To treat others with fairness 3. To give... a. To the ignorant, common sense b. To the young, sound advice c. To the wise, even more wisdom [At this point, it might be appropriate to ask: "What exactly is wisdom, and why is it so valuable?"] II. THE DEFINITION AND VALUE OF WISDOM A. DEFINING WISDOM... 1. "Wisdom...may be defined as a realistic approach to the problems of life..." - 20th Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge 2. Homer Hailey offered this definition of wisdom: "Wisdom is INSIGHT into the underlying causes and significance or consequence of things, which INSIGHT enables one to apply to the best end the knowledge which he has." 3. To illustrate: a. You are yelled at by your boss, wife, or brother in Christ... 1) You could react in different ways a) You could strike back physically, or verbally b) You could do nothing c) You could react with a soft, kind reply - cf. Pr 15:1 2) Wisdom is that insight which helps you to decide what is the best thing to do b. Someone makes sexual advances towards you... 1) Again, you could react in several different ways 2) But wisdom will enable you to react in the proper way B. THE VALUE OF WISDOM... 1. The first nine chapters of "The Book Of Proverbs" are actually discourses extolling the value of wisdom 2. The virtue of wisdom is seen in the prosperous life it can produce - Pr 3:13-18 3. Wisdom's value is also found in guarding us against many pitfalls that are out there - Pr 3:21-26 4. Some of the "pitfalls" that are frequently warned against in "The Book Of Proverbs": a. Evil companionship - Pr 1:10-19 1) They want you to join them in their wrong doing 2) But if you do, you will be caught up with them in their own self-destruction 3) Wisdom would preserve you from this b. The immoral woman - Pr 5:1-14 1) An "affair" might appear exciting and harmless 2) But immorality is one of the quickest ways to destroy one's self physically, emotionally, and spiritually! 3) The exercise of wisdom would spare one from total ruin c. Laziness - Pr 6:6-11 1) It may be good to do nothing 2) But sloth guarantees failure and poverty 3) Wisdom provides a much better way of life [Certainly we should see that wisdom is of great value. But let's go one step further and notice in particular the value of "The Book Of Proverbs" in regards to having wisdom...] III. THE VALUE OF "THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" A. WISDOM IS NORMALLY GAINED THROUGH ONE OF TWO SOURCES... 1. Through years of "trial and error" a. This is the source when a person chooses to listen only to one's own experiences b. But there are disadvantages to gaining wisdom this way: 1) Much of one's lifetime can be wasted trying to learn through trial and error 2) One is forced to live with the consequences of their "errors" c. Sadly, this is the only way many people gain wisdom, and that only if they survive their "errors"! 2. Through the proven experience of others a. This is possible only if one is willing to heed the advice of others b. There are clear advantages to gaining wisdom this way: 1) You can avoid wasting years of your life through trial and error, thus living life to its fullest measure! 2) You experience life unburdened with the consequences of earlier mistakes c. Certainly this method of gaining wisdom is far superior! B. THE SUPERIOR WAY OF GAINING WISDOM IS WHAT MAKES "THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" SO VALUABLE! 1. Instead of wasting our short time here on earth trying to discover wisdom through the process of trial and error, we can go straight to "The Book Of Proverbs" 2. There we can find wisdom that is: a. Divinely inspired by God! b. Proven to be true by generations of righteous men and women who lived out their lives by the teachings found in it c. Expressed concisely in ways easy to remember (Proverb: "a short sentence based on long experience" - Cervantes in Don Quixote) 3. Yes, the value of "The Book Of Proverbs" is that it provides the wisdom of God Himself! a. This is not to say that it takes little effort to glean from this wisdom - cf. Pr 2:1-6 b. But for those who will look to God through His Word and prayer (cf. Ja 1:5-8 ), the promise of God is that wisdom will be granted them c. And this is a far better way to find wisdom than the way most people do it! CONCLUSION 1. I hope this introductory lesson has made you want to study "The Book Of Proverbs" in order to glean it's treasures of wisdom waiting for us 2. In succeeding lessons, we will survey "The Book Of Proverbs" by considering the wisdom it offers pertaining to various relationships we have in this life (e.g., with family, work, God) Of course, no discussion concerning wisdom can be complete without mentioning Jesus Christ... "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." - Co 2:3 Without Jesus Christ in your life, there is no way to be truly wise. Have you come to Christ...?