forgiveness

Background Text: Proverbs 16:3

Devotional Text: Proverbs 3:5-6

Last week we began a series on discovering God’s plan for our lives. We started with the well-known verses from Jeremiah 29:11-12 found in the Old Testament that begin with, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.”

This week, staying with the Old Testament, we are looking at the book of Proverbs, mostly written by King Solomon early in his reign, which began in 970 B.C. and ended in 930 B.C. Some of the verses include wisdom written by others.

So what does Proverbs have to do with God’s plan for us? Simply put, these words of wisdom help us, everyone, live a better, healthier life, and bring us closer to God. Solomon makes no bones about it as he imparts knowledge that leads us to what is good for us, and what will lead to destruction.

As we begin, let’s look at a key verse about God in Proverbs 1:7 — “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

In today’s world, there is plenty of knowledge out there. Just look at the growth of the internet. Many of us use our smartphones more than our computers to find answers to our questions.

This is not the kind of knowledge that Solomon is referring to. Wisdom is so much more than having a head full of knowledge. As you can read in the verse above, the knowledge Solomon refers to is combined with wisdom and discipline. That means wisdom is linked to the basic attitudes we develop.

Furthermore, Solomon is telling us that as we honor and respect God, we find ourselves wanting to know more about God, his kingdom, his son, his word (the Bible), and all that he has to teach us about life.

As we recognize God’s power and glory, we grow into faith. Our faith in God helps us to understand the world around us. It helps us to understand the actions we take to live a good life, as well as the attitudes that mark our character. It is by putting our trust in God that we develop true wisdom.

Proverbs 3:5-6 has this to say to the people of Solomon’s time, and just as clearly to us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

The next verses in chapter 3 offer us wisdom about the things we should and should not do. Let’s look at some of them found in verses 21-22, 27-28, 29-30 and 31-32:

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you.”

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later, I’ll give it tomorrow,’ when you now have it with you.”

“Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Do not accuse a man for no reason when he has done you no harm.”

“Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the Lord detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.”

This is but a sampling of the wisdom given to Solomon by God. There is so much more offered to us in this book. I am just picking and choosing a few of them that hopefully give us all a reason to read Proverbs for ourselves.

Wisdom That Still Holds True

Next, we will look at Proverbs 10:1-22:16.

In this section we find over 300 two-line proverbs written by Solomon. Of course we are not going to look at all the proverbs in this section. As before, I am choosing those that may speak to you and lead you to read the book for yourself.

From Proverbs 10:19, we read, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

On this same line of thought we have in 10:32: “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.”

These remind me of a poster I once saw that stated, “First, put your brain in gear; then, open your mouth.”

There are many proverbs that speak of the lips, mouth or tongue as a foolish part of our bodies that can get us into much trouble. We’ve all had “foot-in-mouth disease” at one time or another.

What it comes down to is this: We should think before we speak, and sometimes we will find we needn’t speak at all. To just sit and listen to one another can often bring more wisdom.

In chapter 15, we find some of Solomon’s wise sayings about living a good life. Going to 15:30, we read, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”

Continuing with the theme of living well, we go to 16:3 — “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” — and 16:9: “In the heart, a person will plan his or her course, but the Lord determines the person’s steps.”

Lastly, let’s look at two more.

From 21:2: “All of a person’s ways may seem right, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

From 21:21: “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

These Scriptures speak to us about attitude. They tell us when we live our lives to honor God each day, and seek to be kind and gentle to all we meet, God will direct our paths. God will and does lead us into the plan he has for each of us.

If you read through Proverbs, you will find there is repetition in the Scripture. One topic may be the subject of many verses, and there are many Scriptures that speak to us about what we should not do. It’s a book full of wisdom, and as you read it, you will easily see that these past truths remain the same for us today.

Next week, we will look at New Testament Scripture that shows us how to find God’s plan for our lives.

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

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