Mentoring Ministry

Providing biblical teaching resources for the next generation.

Two Great Gifts

I want to share a great lesson with you that I learned while pastoring two wonderful churches (one in Fiji for the CMF and another my wife, Nancy, and I planted in New York City).  The lesson is that we cannot take making wise decisions for granted. I have tried not to make foolish decisions, because I knew they would affect others adversely. However, there were occasions when I failed (though not many). All of us have experienced times when we did not use wisdom. This happens when we do not wait for the Holy Spirit to direct our steps and control our tongues. Instead, we allow our emotions to take control. Then, we respond to the situation, according to how we feel and not according to what is right in the sight of the Lord. The contrast is as strong as it could be. There is no path to safety and success without the leading of the Holy Spirit. Every other path is foolishness.

The Book of Proverbs warns us about fools or their foolishness more than eighty times. It mentions the wise or their wisdom at least one hundred and thirty times. Often, the verses about the wise directly follow those that speak of fools and their foolishness. These verses about the wise provide us with a sharp contrast to those about the foolish. Notice that there are many more verses about wisdom than there are about foolishness. Proverbs 4:7 (NKJV) says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”

One reason I love the Proverbs is that they give us God’s perfect guide to wise living. I am aware of my need to have the Lord guide me into wise living on a daily basis. I have needed wisdom and understood its value on so many occasions, that I would have been lost if I could not get it from the Lord. Thank God for His Word (especially the Proverbs). The Proverbs teach us the value of wisdom. It keeps us from the folly of fools. The Lord is concerned deeply that we learn to make consistently right choices. As I read the Proverbs, I cannot help but be grateful that, while God shows us both foolishness and wisdom, He is more interested in our wise successes that our foolish failures. If we are paying attention, we too, will be more interested in applying wisdom to our lives, than in what will snare us into those things, which fools so readily fall. Nevertheless, do not ignore what the Proverbs say about the snares that awaiting us.

The message of the Proverbs is simple and direct. It is readily available and the Lord encourages us to get it. It is there for our benefit. It will guide us in the blessings of righteous living. We need to ask ourselves, when we read the Proverbs, whether we are allowing what they offer us into our hearts and minds. When we do, we become Romans 12:2 people. I like the simplicity of this verse in the God’s Word Translation. It says, “Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants–what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” After thinking about this for some time, I wrote the following paraphrase of Romans 12:2. I did so in light of the teachings of Proverbs. Here is my paraphrase. “Do not become like the foolish. Change your thinking. Take great care in what you allow to influence the way you think. When you do, you will give evidence of God’s will by the display of your excellent success.”  

Before reading further, take a moment and reflect on my paraphrase. Pay particular attention to this part. “Take great care in what you allow to influence the way you think.” I wrote this because both foolishness and wisdom are birthed within a process that takes place in the mind. This process is as follows. (1) We become aware of what is happening around us. (2) It influences our thinking. (3) Even if it is just within a split second, we consider our response. (4) Our response will manifest itself in our actions or the words we speak (often, both together). The danger in this sequence is that when we respond too quickly to what is happening, we do not have time to consider whether it will be a wise of foolish response. The only guarantee we have that we will do the wise thing is to slow the process down, so we can have time to be guided by the Holy Spirit. If we fail to do this and if we rush our response, then we make ourselves vulnerable to the circumstances we could have avoided. This happens because we have removed ourselves from the covering of God’s wise counsel and loving care. Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV) gives us the biblical principle for this. It says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit on things of the spirit. {6} For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” This leads us back to my paraphrase of Romans 12:2 a final time. When you change your thinking to include the Holy Spirit, “you will give evidence of God’s will by the display of your excellent success.”  

My prayer for you is that you have excellent success because you consistently listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. I pray that as you do this, it will bless you and those around you, even as it gives glory to our Most High God. I pray that He, who is worthy to receive all the glory and honor, will guide you through all the tests, trials and especially the opportunities in your life. Now that you have read my prayer for you, I encourage you to do one very wise thing. Discipline yourself to read at least a chapter of Proverbs every day. Now, wouldn’t it be foolish not to find the time to do this?