Monday, July 10, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 47, Wisdom Makes Us Persuasive

Solomon explains some differences between living wisely and living unwisely, then he points out that wisdom helps us speak with persuasive words which are able to lead others onto the right path.

"How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!" (Proverbs 16:16) Solomon is a man with all the gold and silver he could ever need or want, but his wealth never made him happy. When we studied the book of Ecclesiastes we found him sunk deep in clinical depression. It wasn't until he returned to the Lord and gained godly wisdom and insight that Solomon found purpose in life.

"The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives." (Proverbs 16:17) The Lord Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14) The wide gate of destruction is easy to find. We don't have to look for it; all we have to do is follow the crowd. But the one who finds the narrow gate is the one who seeks it. This is the person who knows there has to be more to life. This is the person who wants to live a life that's fulfilling and purposeful. Solomon says, "Watch where you're going! Don't just let yourself be swept along with the crowd. Think for yourself. You know there's more to life than pleasures and greed. Seek the narrow way and live."

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18) We spoke the other day about it being pride that tells a person he isn't a sinner and doesn't need a savior. This is why pride leads to destruction. To be haughty means to be scornful, superior, cold, hard-hearted, and unapproachable. A person with these attitudes is likely to stumble and fall a lot along life's journey because he will not have a teachable spirit. The one who never accepts correction and never learns from mistakes is going to be in and out of trouble all the time.

"Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share the plunder with the proud." (Proverbs 16:19) I have never been wealthy and probably never will be, but I'd rather enjoy what I have and know that I came by it honestly than to have riches gained by wickedness. The only way we can enjoy something that isn't rightfully ours is if there is no fear of God in us. If I took the wealth of another dishonestly, I would be living in constant fear of discipline from the Lord. I might not get caught by mankind in my thievery, but God would know about it.

"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord." (Proverbs 16:20) The prosperity of verse 20 may or may not include material wealth, but it definitely includes spiritual and emotional wealth. When we have a spirit that willingly listens to instruction, our relationship with God prospers. Our relationships with others prosper. We become better workers on our jobs. We become better people in our homes and in our communities. We become more responsible stewards of the things God has blessed us with. The one who trusts and obeys the Lord is blessed by Him.

"The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction." (Proverbs 16:21) Another translation of this would be, "Gracious words are persuasive." We are to be gracious when presenting the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter, under whose first sermon 3,000 people came to Christ, says this about graciously explaining the gospel, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15b) Peter expects that others will ask us why we are so happy and hopeful. They will observe our manner of living and be curious about the joy we have in Christ. We are to answer with gracious words, with gentleness and respect, not in a condemnatory tone that denounces them as sinners. I doubt we would persuade many people, if any, with an attitude that looks down on them. Christ died for all of us equally. He values all of us equally, and we have no right to consider ourselves superior to anyone else. The Lord Jesus used gracious words when speaking with those who came to Him for help. We should do the same.

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