An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The End of the New Revised Standard Version

This past month I have been doing my initial morning reading of Proverbs in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).  I had never read the RSV much so I was interested to see how the NRSV worked.  It is generally readable but I became suspicious of its reliability as I read.

The NRSV is billed as being “gender neutral.”  You can find more extensive comments on this at Medley of Worship but to sum it up the editors and translators decided that the feminists were right and the Bible was written by a bunch of Male Chauvinists who needed to be brought into line.  As a result they have consistently changed the word “son” to “child” and the word “he” to “one.” In 18:24 they change “brother” to “one’s nearest kin.”  In 19:14 they change “fathers” to “parents.”  Although this does not totally destroy the lesson in most cases, it does tell me that the translators are more interested in being accepted socially by their peers than spiritually by God.

One place where these changes became an issue to me was in Chapter 30.  To me this is a Messianic passage.  It clearly refers to Jesus and yet they change “son” to “child” in verse 4.  This takes away from our understanding of the text.
(Proverbs 30:4 KJV)  Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
Do you see what I mean by messianic?  Is it just my imagination?

The edition I am reading includes the Apocrypha just as the Douay Version.  It also has the same tendency of that version to add to verses that are longer in the Greek Septuagint. 
(Proverbs 25:20 KJV)  As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
(Proverbs 25:20 NASB)  Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.
The NRSV reads this way:
Like vinegar on a wound is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
Like a moth in clothing or a worm in wood, sorrow gnaws at the human heart.
Notice the similarity to the Douay,
(Proverbs 25:20 DRB)  And one that looseth his garment in cold weather. As vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a very evil heart. As a moth doth by a garment, and a worm by the wood: so the sadness of a man consumeth the heart.
This is noted in the foot notes. 

As a study tool the cross references were weak in the edition I had but the explanations of literal meanings were adequate.

If you were stranded on a desert island I am sure that you could make good use of this translation but in a society that has a wealth of accurate translations it would be a waste of time.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1994.

Excellence Is Gender Neutral

(Proverbs 31:10 KJV)  Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Is this a rhetorical question?  If this chapter had been written by Solomon I could see a bit of humor in this line, but verse one tells us Lemuel wrote it.  I think there is a bit of the idealistic hope being expressed.  It would be an interesting exercise to go through this passage and see how these qualities apply to us husbands.  I would be willing to guess that most of the qualities are also important for men to bring to the marriage.  I offer that as an attempt to help us all grow, not as an attempt to be gender neutral.

We see that an “virtuous” (excellent NASB) (2428) “woman” (wife NASB) (802) is a gift of God.
(Proverbs 19:14 KJV)  House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
“Virtuous” (excellent NASB) (2428) is different from the prudent of Proverbs 19:14.  There are a number of different adjectives used to modify the women in our lives.  At the other extreme are things like contentious.  When the negative adjectives are used the word is translated “woman” in the NASB instead of “wife,” but it is the same word.  Don’t get consumed by the nuances at first, look at the big picture and see what God wants us to become.

How does this relate to most of us?  I would venture to guess than many of us are already married.  It is a little late to get a shopping list of qualities we want in a mate.  We also face the danger of trying to apply a standard to others that we are not willing to live up to ourselves.  I would suggest that as you read through this chapter that you not use it as a standard to find fault with your spouse but a description of the character we ourselves should be developing.

So?  If you are like me, this list is humbling.  I can see that I am in the minor leagues.  The glory of it is that the Holy Spirit will be working on us all of our lives, honing, sanding, tweeking, in a word, sanctifying.  But remember it is hard to wash a child’s ears if he won’t sit still.  Read, learn and make yourself available.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Need or a Want?

(Proverbs 30:8 KJV)  Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

First we had deception.  Now the request continues with asking for the middle ground between “poverty” (7389) and “riches” (6239).  This is such an incredibly important point.  There is a place in finances where we have enough.  We are provided for.  We have the necessities and more.  The problem is that we are rarely satisfied, we want more.  The advertising of our culture plays on what the Ten Commandments call “coveting.”  In the I Corinthians 13 it says that love is not “jealous.”  These are ways in which we look at what others have and feel slighted because we don’t have it.  We need to always ask ourselves, “Is it a need or a want.”  Do you need to go to the restaurant where steaks cost as much as the down payment on your house?  I realize it is better than home made tuna casserole (with peas) but what do you need?  Find the balance.

Balance is a hard place to find.  Once found it is hard to maintain.  That is the reason it is part of the main request of wisdom.  One of the reasons it is hard to stay in the middle of the path is that it requires us to walk by faith.  We live in a culture that demands different kinds of insurance.  How much is enough?  We have doctors who want to run a plethora of tests.  How many do we really need?  We need reliable transportation.  How new does our car need to be?  These are real questions and we need to ask them for ourselves, not for our neighbors.  The answers must be made in faith and obedience.

So?  Walk the narrow road.  Keep the balance.  Remember that this is only possible with regular contact with the living God.  Pray, read, reflect, trust.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Risk of the Upright

(Proverbs 29:10 KJV)  The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

Who are the “bloodthirsty” (men of bloodshed NASB) (376/1818)?  We can start by assuming it does not mean soldiers except by coincidence.  There is no condemnation of soldiers doing their duty.  This refers to people who revel in killing and destruction, not those who do it to protect others.  While it is possible that a soldier could be a man of bloodshed, it is not because he is a soldier.

Once again we are reminded that there are evil people in the world.  Not just everyday, garden variety sinners but people who really wallow in doing and being evil.  These people “hate” (8130) the weak and law abiding.  It comes out in different ways, from your neighbor letting his dog bark every night at 10:30 to politicians passing laws that have no reason except to make life miserable. 

It is even worse toward those who strive to be “upright” (blameless NASB) (8535).  There are many different synonyms for this condition.  In this verse we see “just” (upright NASB) (3477).  Other places we see “righteous.”  Don’t quibble today over theological distinctions.  There are people who love God and seek to obey His will.  We are special targets of the men of bloodshed in the world.

At the same time there are those in authority who are “just” (upright NASB) (3477) and genuinely “seek” (are concerned NASB) (1245) for the “soul” (life NASB) (5315) of the righteous.  These people believe in the rule of law instead of personal privilege.  That law is rooted in the law of God.  For instance they will seek “justice” which is a Biblical term and not “social justice” which is a political term.  The two are totally different.

So?  Rejoice that we live in a republic.  Make your Biblical views be known.  Vote and write.  Speak up.  Expect attacks from men of bloodshed but know that the upright need your encouragement.  Rejoice in the knowledge that God is in charge.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Proper Poor Posture

(Proverbs 28:6 KJV)  Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

This statement would be laughable to most of our society.  “Uprightness” (integrity NASB) (8537) more important than wealth?  What kind of joke is this?  And yet it is a recurring theme in Proverbs. 

This is not praise for the “poor” (7326).  It is not an attack on the “rich” (6223).  It is not a conflict between rich and poor.  Don’t fall into that trap.  It is a contrast between integrity and materialism.  The best would be to be rich and have integrity.

It is not so much that the rich are always “perverse” (crooked NASB) (6141/1870).  It is more the reality that people with wealth and power are more free to exhibit their natural tendencies than the poor.  They do not need to worry so much about what people think.  They also have the leisure to pursue perverted pastimes. 

Wealth tends to breed an attitude of independence.  We begin to feel secure and change our attitudes and behaviors.  Why is it uncommon for a championship term to repeat?  They relax a little and other teams strive harder.  It is natural for us to forget our need for God’s grace when things are going well. 

So?  Try to remember that our security is not found in our bank balance or a government program.  Out ultimate, and immediate, security comes from God.  As I write this the country is having serious economic problems.  Millions are out of work.  The real tragedy is that our moral status is even worse.  Spiritual poverty will never trump material prosperity.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Joy of Reproach

(Proverbs 27:11 KJV)  My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.

This seems to be a strange combination.  The son is being “wise” (2449), yet someone reproaches” (2778a) me.  I guess this points out that we can be encouraged by how our children turn out.

If we have raised our children right they are not going to conform to the dominant culture.  If we have been raised right, the same.  If the Holy Spirit is active in our lives we are going to be controversial because of our obedience.  Remember what Jesus said about this in the Sermon on the Mount?
(Matthew 5:10-11 KJV)  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
What a joy it is when someone comes to complain because my son has been too honest in a business deal.  How honored I am when someone gripes that my daughter would not lie for them in a dispute.  We drive old cars which means we buy and sell.  Almost every time we do a transaction we are asked to put down a false amount on the paperwork.  It gives us a chance to do a little witnessing and I hope makes the Father’s “heart” (3820) “glad” (8055).

Just because the world criticizes you, you do not need to hang your head. 

So?  Be wise.  Live on a different level.  Stand out.  Bring joy to your heavenly Father.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Charlie Brown Forgiveness

(Proverbs 26:25 KJV)  When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.

The “he” of this verse is the hater of the previous verse.  I hope this does not describe me.  I don’t believe it does.  How about you?  Have you done a self check?  I do know that this describes many people I have around me and many I see on the news.  We have people in the public square who are motivated by hate and yet speak of love and peace.  They act “fair” (graciously NASB) (2603a).  This is an easy act for some people.  That is why it is important to watch the actions that go along with the talk.  Politicians can be this way.  Salesmen can be this way.  Family members can be this way.

This is a call to discernment.  We are told to forgive.  We are to be patient and not keep an account of wrongs.  At the same time we are to be as wise as servants.  I don’t think I need to quote the verses.  When someone has demonstrated their willingness to lie, do not believe them just because they claim to have changed.  Charles Schultz captured this so well in the yearly Peanuts cartoon where Lucy would talk him into kicking the football she was holding.  Year after year she yanks the ball away.  Year after year Charlie Brown trusted her one more time.

So?  Don’t be a Charlie Brown Christian.  Forgive.  That is demanded.  Wisdom says, “Don’t forget.  Once a liar, twice a liar, three times a liar probably means the person is a liar.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Coals of Fire

(Proverbs 25:22 KJV)  For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

This phrase has come up several times recently in my life.  The most recent was in a sermon on Romans 12:20 which reads like this:
(Romans 12:20 KJV)  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Be aware of how often the NT writers quote the OT. 

It seems like the people I am listening to are reading the same commentaries.  They are searching far and wide to give to “heap” (2846) “coals” (1513) some kind of warm and fuzzy meaning.  I love the way scholars speak with certainty as to what a phrase means.  The pastor on Sunday told us with no qualifications that it came from an old tradition of walking around town with a bowl of hot coals on your head, going from house to house lighting people’s hearths.  I can’t remember how that figured into the sermon but it was a cute concept.

Adam Clarke says this:
“Not to consume, but to melt him into kindness; a metaphor taken from smelting metallic ores...”
I can buy that.  Barnes sees a parallel in the burning coals of incense in the priests censer. 

This is a phrase I have heard all my life.  It is an example of how the Biblical language was a part of every day life.  It was used to signify that kindness would embarrass people when they compared our actions to theirs.  This would lead them to think and open them to change and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Either way, we are commanded to show kindness and mercy on our enemies. 

So?  It should be obvious.  Revenge, animosity, hatred and hostility have no place in our lives if we follow Jesus.  Don’t ignore this truth.  Apply it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Falling Cometh Before the Rise

(Proverbs 24:16 KJV)  For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

This verse reminds me that I must reject what I have heard of “Prosperity Gospel.”  That is the teaching that if we just believe we will be “healthy, wealthy and wise.”  There are those who think that following Jesus is a smooth, trouble free life.  Not so, according to this verse.

Notice that the first subject is called “righteous” (6662).  Let’s hope that includes you and me.  How does his life go?  He “falls” (5307) repeatedly.  I think the number seven is symbolic, not limiting.  The point is that even the righteous will have down times.  Accept that.  Learn from it.  Rejoice in it.

And expect to rise again.  This is what is really exciting to me.  I find it very easy to get discouraged.  It may be a character flaw, but there it is.  It is verses like this that remind me I am not being judged by how many times I fail.  In a sense I am being judged by how many times my faith in Jesus gets me up and moving again. 

This is not an excuse to sin.  It is not a franchise on sloppy decisions.  It does not overlook being lazy.  It is an assurance that the grace of God is not based on meeting our expectations, but on meeting His.

So?  Get up and get going.  Remember, we have read the book and we know who wins.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crown Molding

(Proverbs 23:13 KJV)  Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Here is another issue on which our culture has rejected the teaching of the Bible and we find ourselves going along with society instead of the word.  Admit it.  We are uncomfortable with this verse.  “Discipline” (4148)  has been redefined by the psychologists and social workers.  We have seen so many cartoons and situation comedies that make the child to be the wise member of the family that we are reluctant to act like adults. 

This is a command, not a suggestion.  We are to discipline our children.  Because of the second part of the verse we tend to assume this means beating a child.  Not so.  The word is translated “instruction” more often than “discipline” in the NASB.  The idea is to impose your mature, experienced and informed view on a young mind that is immature and ignorant.  This does not happen naturally.  The child naturally resists.  If you don’t believe that you either have no children, let them raise themselves or were blessed with only easy kids. 

We had our difficult child first and I am glad.  If our first child had been our easy child then the second would have driven us to desperation.  As it was we were pleasantly surprised by the second.  But both needed to be taught the ways of God.  We had to find ways to impress on our difficult child that we were the adults.  It was a long battle and often I wished I could return him for a refund.  Fortunately we couldn’t and he has turned out just fine.

Our “rod” (7626) was usually a chair in a corner or denial of use of the computer.  The key was that we were commissioned by God to raise a godly child.  We could not abandon that because it was too hard.

So?  Be a strong adult.  Accept the role.  If your children are still in the formative years, be strong as a parent.  If yours are grown, support them as parents when the time comes.  We are in need of a godly generation.  Be a part of the molding.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rich Man, Poor Man

(Proverbs 22:16 KJV)  He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Verse 7 says the rich will rule over the poor.  That is a fact of life.  In a free society the names of the rich are constantly changing.  The one who is rich today may not be tomorrow.  The one who is poor today, through hard work and a few breaks, may be the rich of tomorrow.  Bill Gates was not born wealthy.  The children of the wealthy are famous for squandering what their parents built up.  We have a lot of freedom to pursue our dreams.  The problem with our sinful natures is that we take freedom and abuse it.  God is not angry at the rich but gets back at anyone who “oppresses” (6231) the “poor” (1800b).  The rich are in a position to do that.

Notice how this oppression is defined, you oppress to “make much” (7235a) for yourself.  Believers in Jesus are not luxury liners cruising for their own satisfaction.  We would build a business to provide jobs and produce a better life for others.  When you consider yourself too important then you don’t mind taking advantage of others. 

So?  How is this applied?  By giving good quality for a fair price.  By being willing to pay a fair price.  By being honest and open in your contracts.  By fulfilling your obligations and commitments.  Followers of Jesus Christ can get rich but they must do it in an honest way.  In Hell your paper money will burn and your gold will melt.  No wonder you can’t take it with you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rooting Out Evil

(Proverbs 21:12 KJV)  The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.

What does the “righteous” (6662) do when he “considers” (7919a) the “wicked” (7563)?   The word has many translations in wisdom literature.  It’s basic meaning is being prudent.  Believers need to be aware of the wicked and what they do.  We cannot live in la-la land and assume that everyone has the best motives in the world.  Even if they have good motives there is that old saying the “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  If you were to talk to a jihad terrorist he would tell you that blowing up a market full of women and children was a way to bring about the destruction of God’s enemies.  I once knew and worked with a Palestinian who claimed to be a Roman Catholic.  He very calmly stated that all Israelis needed to be killed.  The women because they would have more babies, the children because they would grow up to be soldiers.  He was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, unless you were a Jew from Israel.  We Americans do not understand this type of mindless hatred and evil.  We want to ignore it and act like it is just a misunderstanding.

The second part of this would be even more controversial.  Is this a call to work actively against the “wicked” (7563)?  How do we go about “overthrowing" (turning NASB) (5557) the wicked to “wickedness" (ruin NASB) (7451b)?  You will notice that the KJV has “but God” inserted and saying that this is something God would be doing by Himself.  That would make it seem right to ignore the evil.  The problem is that “but God” is not in the Hebrew.  Look at the page.  Those two words are in italics.  That tells you it was not in the original language.  This was editorializing by the translators.  Some translation do this, others don’t.  We are not talking about vengeance.  We are talking about curbing evil.  This responsibility is not given to us for revenge but to the government to deal with evil.
(Romans 13:4 KJV)  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
So?  Be a personal pacifist.  You have grounds for that.  But don’t act like the government is in the wrong when it goes after evil.  Support that responsibility which was given to them.  Of course you want to elect and appoint people who have a Biblical view of evil.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Draw of the Eyes

(Proverbs 20:8 KJV)  A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.

This is another reminder that political leaders should have a concern with “judgment” (justice NASB) (1779).  This justice is of the Biblical sort, not the modern PC type.  This is the kind of justice that considers abortion immoral and an SUV a personal decision.  This king sends liars to hell and political spinmasters are there to welcome them but greets with joy a struggling alcoholic to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.  This is a quality we should be looking for in our political leaders.

I also think this is a reflection of judgement day.  God will not need to speak.  The unwashed will flee His presence.  Just His holiness “scattereth” (disperses NASB) (2219) “evil” (7451b).  We have this picture of people being driven into the fire of hell.  I struggle with that and the idea of mercy.  One solution I have put together is that the fire of hell is nothing compared to the holy fire that pulses out of the “eyes” (5869) of our King.  I picture the unrepentant, the evil, gladly fleeing from His presence which only leaves one direction to flee.

So?  If you know Jesus, rejoice.  If you don’t, change.  Kind of simple, isn’t it?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Deferred Anger

(Proverbs 19:11 KJV)  The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

“Discretion” (7922) is a mark of spiritual maturity.  It is defined as prudence and insight.  We like that part but we don’t stop to think how that works out in our behavior.  A person with discretion does not blow his top over every little thing that comes up.  How does that work?  I think that one habit produced by this quality is to try and understand events from the other person’s point of view.  I can always point out where someone has gone wrong.  What is hard for me is understanding how they arrived at their position.  To them it is logical and obvious.  To me it is emotional and irrational.  It helps to understand that they look at my position the same way.

“Anger” (639) has its place.  I have a hard time believing that Jesus was not angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple.  I don’t think He was warm and fuzzy when He called Peter Satan and told him to go away.  Don’t get the idea that the anger is the sin.  The sin is the speed of the anger.  When our anger is “slow” (748) it does not control us.  It becomes the spice, not the main ingredient.

So?  Be honest with yourself.  Be honest about yourself and others.  If you have problems with anger, don’t ignore it.  Work on it.  It starts with admitting it to yourself.  Others already know.  Make it a matter of prayer.  Ask that the Lord would bring it to your attention at the stage when you can deal with it, not after the explosion.  Expect to fail at first but remember that God has been working with short tempers a long time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A View from the Top

(Proverbs 18:10 KJV)  The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

Verses 10 and 11 contrast the values of the “righteous” (6662) and the unrighteous.  One puts his confidence in the “name” (8034) of the Lord;  the other in what he can build himself or pay others to build.

Think about the names of the Lord.  Jesus is Lord.  The name Jesus is defined for us by the angel appearing to Joseph.
(Matthew 1:21 KJV)  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
The Old Testament equivalent of Jesus is Joshua and it means savior or one who saves.  One reason the world hates this word is that if there is a savior, we need saving.  Post modern philosophy and Emergent Church theology reject this idea.  That would imply that there is something wrong with us.  An awareness of my sin and my need for a savior is one of the reasons that this name is so special to me.  Jesus becomes my strong tower because He saves.

Then there is the key Old Testament name for God which most books today write as Yahweh but the older books translate as Jehovah.  This is the name that God revealed to Moses. 
(Exodus 3:13-14 KJV)  And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
In the Hebrew there were no vowels so His name would be transliterated YHWH.  That is the reason for the different names in English.  The name was considered so holy that it was not to be pronounced so no one knows what vowels were intended to be used.  The key to me is that the name means “I am.” 

We serve a God who is.  He is not a figment of my imagination.  He is not the creation of a group of bored philosophers.  He is to one who gave those philosophers the ability to think, as warped as they may be.  YHWH becomes my strong tower because He is.

So?  I don’t know about tomorrow.  I don’t even know about today.  I do know about now and eternity.  The in between times I will let my Tower worry about.  Join me and enjoy the view.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Focal Point

(Proverbs 17:24 KJV)  Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

What is the source of authority in your life?  When I was a child it was my parents.  In school it would be my teacher or the principal.  As we get older and more independent it gets harder to point out dependable reference points.  This verse is warning us to have the right compass in our life.

The danger is stated in the second part of the verse.  A “fool” (3684) looks to the “ends” (7097) of the “earth” (776).  This reminds me that so many people have their eyes focused on what society and culture say and in the process get everything wrong.  I got a dose of the worlds priorities the other day when I was getting a haircut.  I had an appointment so I didn’t bring a book.  Unfortunately my idea of being on time was different than the lady cutting my hair.  I found myself waiting.  In desperation I picked up a copy of the National Enquirer that was laying on a table.  I have seen this “magazine” on the checkout stands for years but I have never done more than laugh at the cover.  Looking through the contents showed me why so much of our population has a mind of mush.  The insipid drivel inside was beyond description. 

If we try to direct our lives by the opinions of others we are looking at the ends of the earth.  We are supposed to be focusing on what Proverbs describes as “wisdom” (2451).  This wisdom is based on a healthy fear of the Lord which is based on a knowledge of His word and is brought to life through knowing His son.  Again we are reminded of the choice before us.  Will we be wise or fools?  Will we base our values on the eternal God or the temporary world?

So make the decision.  Actually it is a daily, sometime moment by moment, decision.  I don’t know about you but I am constantly being pressured to do it the way everyone else does it.  No that is wrong.  I do know about you.  The world is out to get us to conform.  Perhaps a good place to close is with a very familiar bit of scripture:
(Romans 12:2 KJV)  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Divine Right of Kings?

(Proverbs 16:10 KJV)  A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.

Leaders make choices.  Because of their position it is a “divine sentence” (divine decision NASB) (7081).  This is a concept that does not sit well with our democratic thinking.  Maybe it should.  As I get older I see little Biblical evidence that democracy is God’s plan.  Think about it.  What kind of governments do you see referred to in the Bible.  Mainly monarchies.  It isn’t because democracy was not known.  The Greek democracies were well known and had experienced times of political success.  It is hard to believe that no one writing the Bible knew about them.

Some people refer to Moses getting advice from Aaron about setting up a system of leaders to give him advice.  That was much more along the lines of a republic like we have today.  Elders were chosen to represent a group of people.  Leaders were chosen from the elders.  A smaller group was finally selected to give advice to Moses.  This is not democracy; it is representative government.  Many people don’t seem to realize that our Founders did not like the idea of democracy.  They set up a republic, which is different.

There are some other qualifiers.  These kings were expected to seek God’s guidance.  This seems to be the process of divination.  In that context it seems to change the meaning of this verse.  The kings of Israel were constantly seeking out the prophets of God for opinions and advice.  Sometimes they went to the throwing of lots.  The assumption was that a good king was seeking the direction of the Almighty, not just doing his own thing.  When  the kings disregarded the advice of the prophets the nation suffered.

So?  We should seek godly leaders.  What a person believes is important.  Our culture is mouthing some mantra about separation of church and state.  Fine.  But that does not mean the separation of God and leaders.  When you vote for a mayor, school board member, county assessor or president, consider the ultimate source of their wisdom.  It makes a difference what leaders believe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Course Correction

(Proverbs 15:10 KJV)  Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

This verse deals with some issues that most people want to avoid.  They are not “politically correct” in our culture today. 

First we have the idea of what the current version of the NASB calls “grievous discipline.”  This is expressed a bit differently in the old translations.  The words are there but are put in a different order that conveys a slightly different emphasis, which is still rejected by today’s post-modern thinkers.  The first offense is the idea of “correction" (discipline NASB) (4148).  Many people believe that discipline is a part of primitive, barbaric cultures that are fixated on violence and force.  We should be more enlightened, they say.  If you believe that you are rejecting the clear teaching of scripture. 

This discipline is to be “stern” (7451a) or “grievous.”  This is put together two different ways.  One is that the discipline is strong.  The other is that our response is strong.  Either way it is unpleasant.  We do not want to admit that sometimes unpleasant words and actions are necessary. 

This discipline is for one who “forsakes” (5800) the way of God.  Some people abandon the faith.  They walk away, return to rebellion, go apostate.  It happens.  Bringing them back is hard.  Sometimes God expects us to act.  Sometimes God tries to reach them through extreme measures in their lives.  Rough times in life can be attempts by God to bring us back.

So?  Are you going through hard times?  Often this is just life.  God’s comfort and grace can see us through.  If you find no comfort or you can’t seem to find the face of God, then consider the possibility that there is some repentance needed.  Only you can discern what is going on.  If it is a growing time, lean hard and gain maturity.  If it is stern discipline, repent.  God will meet you either way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Protestant Work Ethic

(Proverbs 14:23 KJV)  In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

I am not a big fan of working out in the hot sun.  I see little point in mowing the lawn since it will just grow again.  My wife gave up on me years ago and hired a gardener.  I tell kids at school that I went to college so I would not need to dig ditches.  I have done my share of labor.  My father was in construction.  He used to get us up before school to push a wheelbarrow when he was having concrete delivered.  I can do it when I need to, but I don’t like it.  I used to think I had a biblical case.  I would quote a great source, God Himself.
(Genesis 3:19 KJV)  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Unfortunately I eventually read the rest of the Bible and found a different interpretation of work.  Here we have the Protestant Work Ethic.  We find that it is really the Biblical Work Ethic.  This Ethic says “all” (3605)  “labor” (6089a) has “profit” (4195).  Work is good, even when we do not enjoy it.  There is a gain in our lives when we put forth effort to produce.  There is a dignity in all forms of labor.  Because of this we are not to look down on people because of the kind of work they do.  Too many people treat the guy working at the car wash as inferior.  Too many treat a waitress as beneath their notice.  This is not acceptable for followers of Jesus.  I wonder if lawyers are an exception to this rule?

So?  Practice that part of love which is described as kindness and humility.  The Bible does not deny social classes.  Proverbs is full of those references.  What it does condemn is harsh treatment and injustice based on those classes.  “Love is patient, and is kind...”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Watch Your Spiritual Carbs

(Proverbs 13:14 KJV)  The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

To receive the “fountain” (4726) of “life” (2425b) we need to avoid the “snares” (4170) set for us.

One trap is recognized if we look at both parts of the verse.  It would be the teaching of the foolish.  What do you read?  What do you listen to?  What (shudder) do you watch?  If you were honest and took the time, how many of these people giving input to your thinking are really based on the eternal wisdom of God and how many follow the current fads?  I really don’t care if your look is grunge, gothic or business casual.  I am concerned if your thinking is new-age, post-modern or multi-cultural. 

Satan lays “snares” for us everywhere.  Snares are placed in locations where prey is expected to be.  Earlier we talked about habits (verse 6).  If we follow the same habits of the world they we are easy to trap.  But if we follow the ways of righteousness we automatically go where no snares have been laid.  Satan expects us to be stupid and unthinking.  Surprise him.

It is possible that Satan cannot think outside the box.  He expects us to behave in certain sin-conditioned ways.  If we live lives of righteousness then we miss the worst that he has to offer.  Remember that the world does not understand us.  Why should we expect Satan to?  When he is waiting to catch your eye in the women’s lingerie section of the advertisements, he will miss you totally if you turn to the hardware section.  We must “turn aside” (5493) from the traps waiting for us.

So?  GIGO is also a spiritual term.  (For those who don’t get out much that stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out, a computer term.)  I have two books to count calories and nutrition, one at each end of the house.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had a book to evaluate how many spiritual carbs we were picking up?  Maybe the Bible would help.  Watch your input and the temptations will be reduced.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Want, I Want, I Want

(Proverbs 12:12 KJV)  The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.

Am I the only one who has looked at the gains of people who have cheated and lied and felt like the world is just not a fair place?  I look at Al Gore and the awesome amounts of money he has made playing the Global Warming card, and a Nobel Prize as frosting on the cake.  I look at the guys who thought up the scheme of siphoning off the small percentage that was involved in rounding off bank accounts and over a period of time accumulated wealth I can only dream of.  At times I day-dream of getting a piece of those pies.  Then I realize that is not the way of a just and holy God and flee from that tangent.

If sin is still the focus of our life we are “wicked” (7563).  It doesn’t matter what prayer I prayed at summer camp or how many camp meetings I have attended.  My focus must be on the things of God.

Remember that the sin is not in the temptation. 
(James 1:14-15 KJV)  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
It is not the first thought, or even the second that brings sin and death.  It is the desire.  I pray that my desires would be focused on the things of God not the things of men.

So?  We aware of what attracts your desire.  Is it something that draws you away from God?  Then it is of the devil.  Resist him and he will flee from you.  It is not a bad idea to do little attitude checks as the day goes on.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and direct you in the path of righteousness.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Don't Dis

(Proverbs 11:12 KJV)  He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.

Do you have a “neighbor” (7453) that is less than perfect?  We have a mixture around us as I am sure most people do.  What is your attitude toward your neighbors?  This is another way of expressing what Jesus was saying,
(Matthew 19:19 KJV)  Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
And many people don’t seem to realize that Jesus was simply quoting the Old Testament,
(Leviticus 19:18 KJV)  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
The world often “despises” (936) its neighbor.  A Christian is not allowed to do so.  We have a term that has crept into our vocabulary, “dis.”  It is part of the rap vocabulary and means to “disrespect.”  This is the meaning of “despise” here.  It is not wise to dis your neighbor.

But we are not really talking about “wisdom” (3820) .  This is not the standard word for “wisdom.”  The NASB uses “sense”.  The word is usually translated “heart” or “mind.”  You could say that if you are showing disrespect for people around you, you have no heart.

You don’t need to ask who your neighbor is.  Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate that.  Even our enemies are to be shown courtesy and kindness.

So?  Be different.  Be Christlike.  Apply the love of Christ with a special emphasis on the difficult people of our day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thou Shall Not...Wink, Wink

(Proverbs 10:10 KJV)  He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.

Some pictures carry through culture.  “Winks” (7169) still carry the idea of deception.  Sometimes it is clear and is meant as humor.  Sometimes it is done secretively and is meant to cover a deception.  Some times it means to ignore a problem.  All can cause “trouble” (6094).

Ignoring the problem is what jumps out at me today.  I just had a long discussion with a man who volunteers a lot of time and money at my school and across our district.  He runs a game room and gets almost immediate compliance with his rules and expectations.  One of the differences is that he can throw a kid out if they do not comply.  They do not have to be there and they know it.  On the other hand, the kids I work with in class know that I have to let them in and document everything if I kick them out.  We agree that the difference is follow through.  In his case the kids know he means what he says.  In my case the kids know I am limited and will not be backed up by my superiors. 

The point is that society and families need people who will establish a standard and stick with it.  We have too many people who talk big and wink at violations.  We see it every day in traffic, in government, at work. 

This standard of behavior has influenced our thinking as believers.  We think that God will wink at our disobedience or lack of discipline.  We confuse patience with lack of standards.  We think that grace will cover willful rebellion.  We forget that God will not be mocked and does not play games.  He knows our hearts.  We can dissemble with our friends, but God knows exactly what is going on in our mind.

So?  Don’t play games with God.  He is patient.  He will forgive.  He is merciful.  Grace means gift.  At the same time He is holy and righteous.  This is why Proverbs talks about the fear of the Lord so much.  Stop winking and develop a healthy fear.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Multiplication Tables

(Proverbs 9:11 KJV)  For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

This verse is in the context of the much better known Proverbs 9:10. 
(Proverbs 9:10 KJV)  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Proper fear and genuine knowledge lead to wisdom and understanding.  The “me” in this verse is Wisdom speaking.  If we have wisdom, our lives will be longer. 

This seems to be a promise, not just a principle.  There is much we cannot know about a promise like this.  We don’t have access to data and hearts to see how this is applied.  We don’t know the mind of God is such a way as to know when He is making exceptions, long or short.  It seems to imply that those who fear the Lord will live longer. 

Possibly this is an individual promise, not a group promise.  What does that mean?  That I as in individual will have my days “multiplied” (7235a) beyond what my days may have been, not beyond what your days would have been.  So if my time would have been 65 years and your would have been 85 years, if wisdom extends my life to 75 years my days are multiplied even though I still live less time than you.  We need to avoid looking and comparing when we don’t know all the facts.

As I look at the listing for “multiplied” it strikes me that this could be a quality multiplier not just a numerical one.  We will live more of life and know more of its quality in addition to having days “added” (3254).  Another thought along these lines is that the “years of life” extend into eternity.

So?  Live in the promise.  Live in the wisdom that is based in the fear and the knowledge of God.  Longer and better life is the result.  It is a promise.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Conditional Love

(Proverbs 8:17 KJV)  I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

This is “love” (157) not “loving kindness” [chesed].  It is significant that Wisdom is doing the loving here, not God Himself.  This is important to understand.  Remember what used to be the most often memorized and quoted verse in the Bible.
((John 3:16 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
And remember what Paul said,
(Romans 5:8 KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The entire point of the Gospel is that God reaches out to us with the gift of eternal life.  He might demand a response, but He does not depend on our strength.

The love expressed here is totally conditional.  Wisdom will not love those who do not love it.  It must be a two way street.  People who want nothing to do with the wisdom of God will never be happy in its presence.  This is why we have so many naive believers.  Proverbs calls them simple.  They don’t want to know because wisdom is not always warm and fuzzy.  That is also why we have different gifts of the spirit such as wisdom and knowledge.

This is a promise about the accessibility of wisdom.  It is available if we will “seek early" (diligently seek NASB) (7836).   When we think of people being naive (8:5), ignorant or stupid we need to realize that those are not reasons, just excuses.

So?  I personally think God wants all of His children to seek wisdom, but then I don’t understand people with the gift of mercy.  Will you at least consider it?  I believe we need more people in the world who want to understand the whole counsel of God.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Twilight Is a Downer

(Proverbs 7:9 KJV)  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

This is a dependent phrase.  It is a conclusion to the previous verse which I was thinking about but after reading it a few times I focused on this.  All of these descriptions take place at the end of the day.  I have been noticing something lately.  It is the noticing that is lately, not the tendency that was noticed.  My mental attitude is different in the evening.  This may be obvious to you but I began to realize that when I got home from work I was not only physically tired but my mind had lost whatever edge it had in the morning.  It seemed to effect my spiritual mood. 

I was reminded that when Jesus said to love God with all our body, soul, heart and mind, He was pointing out that we are not just a body, a brain, or a spirit.  We are a total creature.  If our body is down it effects our ability to think and our ability to process spiritual truth. 

Over the years I have struggled with what I would call mild depression.  I always got my work done and never did anything really stupid, but I could spend an entire afternoon staring at a wall.  Part of that was attitude and the Lord has helped me deal with that as a matter of trust and living by faith.  I am wondering if part of that is also fatigue level.

I have been adjusting my life.  I want the Lord to have my freshest body, mind, and soul.  For me that has meant getting up early to spend time with Him before I get involved in my day.  I have a hard time focusing on the word at the end of the day.  It helps me.

So?  I would recommend you try changing your daily schedule.  You are not a morning person?  Neither was I.  Honestly, morning might not work for you.  We are all different, but find a way to spend time with the Lord.  It will be a blessing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Here's Lookin' at Me

(Proverbs 6:17 KJV)  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

One of the interesting items in history is the names people are given.  Often they are very descriptive.  Some of my favorites are Charles the Simple, Pepin the Short and Henry the Quarrelsome.  How would you like to be called Harry of the Haughty Eyes?  Again we have a word picture that says so much:  “proud" (haughty NAB) (7311) “look" (eyes NASB) (5869).  “Proud" (haughty) means exalted or high and lifted up.  In this case I think the idea is what we would call “looking down your nose” as someone.

This word is usually positive in its meaning.  The most familiar use is,
(Proverbs 14:34 KJV)  Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
This is another case of a blessing that, when misused, becomes a curse.  When God lifts us up, we are blessed.  When we lift ourselves up, we are cursed.  When our eyes are on Jesus, we are lifted up.  When our eyes are on ourselves we are condemned. 

So?  Is Jesus number one today?  What have you planned for your weekend?  What are your priorities for the next week?  One of the hardest things for us to see is our own weaknesses.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them and give you the grace to change.  Happy growing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Semper Fidelis

(Proverbs 5:15 KJV)  Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

Here begins a passage that speaks figuratively about fidelity in marriage.  This is one of the fundamental foundations of the Christian life and it is one that is being attacked regularly by our pagan culture.  As I read polls about attitudes I am encouraged by the attitudes about abortion and discouraged by the attitudes toward marriage and family.  This is more than gay marriage.  We are witnessing the decomposing of what has been bedrock in the past.

The point in these verses is fidelity.  The U.S. Marines have a motto, “Semper Fidelis.”  I believe it means “always faithful.”  It is a good theme for our families.  We are to be faithful to one husband or wife.  We know this is talking about marriage because in verse 18 it specifically mentions “wife.”  Think about this a little.  I don’t know how much you read.  I enjoy a wide variety of fiction:  Science fiction, some fantasy, mysteries, spy novels, historical fiction, almost anything but romance and horror.  If you look at the main characters you rarely find one in a committed, monogamous marriage.  The closest they come is a marriage in which one person has died.  I just sampled a new series.  The author had a good number of books under her belt.  I was looking forward to some good reading.  Before the first paragraph was done I knew that she was living and sleeping with a man who was not her husband.  Within the first few pages she managed to introduce the stereotype of the narrow minded Christian and the open minded old lady who not only jogs at 80 years of age but is not judgmental of the young woman’s sleeping arrangements.  The nonsense got so thick that I quit reading after a couple of short chapters.

Our minds are being polluted by this.  Our children don’t have the accumulated understanding that we might have.  They are easy prey.  I don’t watch TV, so I don’t know what is there, but we need to be aware. 

So?  If you are married, commit yourself to being faithful.  If you are not married, do not sell yourself to the current fad in relationships.  God has a standard.  One man, one women, a covenant for life.  Drink from your own cistern.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lessons from the Interstate

(Proverbs 4:14 KJV)  Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

How do I live up to this standard?  Every day when I get up I go through the same routine, a path, that takes me to places of business and to a job where I am surrounded by the “wicked” (7563).  I follow the directions of superiors who do not acknowledge the call of God on their lives.  I am restrained by laws that try to limit my expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This week I had a long discussion with a class when again a student brought up the lie, “You can’t talk about God in school.”  I am sure that you face the same environment.

In the middle ages people would retreat into monasteries or caves in an attempt to avoid the wickedness that pervaded their culture.  It also dominates ours.  It did not really work then and it does not work now because sin is a built-in problem.  Unless we deal with it in our hearts we will never know victory.  The victory is achieved through the blood and the Spirit.

But after that, how do we avoid going down the wrong path?  Perhaps it would help to think of the path as a figurative statement.  I am on the freeway almost every day.  Let me draw a few ideas from that experience.  In the metropolitan area we have what are called “car pool lanes.”  In theory they are to encourage people to car pool, save the environment and get to work quicker.  Although they are following the same route, they are a different path.  There are “lanes” we drive in in life.  There are choices we make.  We are to avoid the ones that are “wicked” (7563).

Let’s go a little deeper into the figurative.  I get into a lane and stay in it for long distances.  I watch others dodge and weave.  I watch people, who I consider motivated by selfishness, act like they are more important than anyone else on the interstate system.  They are definitely following a different path that I am, even if we happen to think we are going to the same place.

So?  What motivation determines the path you follow through the congestion of life?  When you decide to change lanes are you motivated by a desire to beat everyone else or is it a matter of safety or necessity?  Do you follow the pattern of the world that always demands that you come out on top or do you follow the path that Jesus laid out and Paul echoed?  I struggle with the answer for myself.  I hope you do, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Never Too Old to Learn

(Isaiah 59:17 NASB)  He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.

A few days ago I was doing research on a passage and noticed this verse as a cross-reference.  I am sure that somewhere in my past someone has pointed this out but it never sunk in.  Paul was quoting Isaiah when he wrote the following verses.
(Ephesians 6:14 KJV)  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
(Ephesians 6:17 KJV)  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

This is nothing earthshaking but I thought I would share this little tidbit of how the entire Bible works together.

Growing Pains

(Proverbs 3:11 KJV)  My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

“Chastening” (Discipline NASB) (4148) is a word that is rapidly losing its importance in our culture.  It is multi faceted as Adam Clarke tells us in this insight into the word.  The Hebrew word 
“signifies correction, discipline, and instruction. Teaching is essentially necessary to show the man the way in which he is to go; discipline is necessary to render that teaching effectual; and, often, correction is requisite in order to bring the mind into submission, without which it cannot acquire knowledge.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like discipline.  I want to be a free spirit American of the 21st century, doing what I want, going where I will, with no restraints on my pursuit of happiness.  The problem is, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God call me to obedience and, here is that ugly word, discipline.

It is true that we have liberty in Christ.  The paradox is that if you are in Christ you want to please Him in all ways.  Does Jesus want me fat?  No, but He is more concerned that my spirit be lean and well exercised.  The interesting thing is that one should produce the other.  Prayer and fasting, working to support myself and my family, giving of my resources to help those in need, sharing my food with the hungry, all of these things limit my intake of food and increase my burning of calories. 

Does Jesus get offended if I take a nap?  No, but it is hard to take a nap when you are helping a neighbor get their cat out of the tree or the clog out of their sewer. 

So?  Welcome the teaching that God provides.  Meditate on the difficulties that face you.  Rejoice that God cares enough to correct you.  The Highway of Holiness may demand discipline but remember that the lion does not roam there.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Salt or Tofu

(Proverbs 2:9 KJV)  Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.

We have the other side of an if/then construction.  Here it is a when/then construction.  When God guards, then we can “understand" (discern NASB) (995).  So many of God’s promises are conditional.  We ignore that at our peril.  Go back far enough and you come to the expectation that we will be walking in the paths of integrity and that we will be upright. 

Many people think they want to discern.  Usually what we really want are simple answers so we don’t need to wrestle with the complexities of life.  That is why we buy self-help books on everything from investing to exercise.  Give me three simple steps to financial independence.  Give me the five keys to losing weight while I eat what I want.  Explain to me the four spiritual laws.  I like simple answers.  In reality I am aware that life is not easy.  Discernment is not a pill; it is a result of discipline.

Notice that here we are not discerning knowledge but “righteousness” (6664), “justice” (4941), “equity” (4339) and a “good” (2896a) “course” (4570).  Discernment does not require formal education but spiritual acuity.  Don’t be impressed with college degrees and certificates.  Notice how many bumper stickers there are declaring how children are honor students.  They are cheap to print and easy to distribute.  Spiritual acuity is open to everyone no matter how many years of school you have had.

So?  Are you in the “if” stage or the “when” stage?  Have you don’t your homework?  If not, start building a foundation today.  Read, think, listen, pray.  Are you further down the road?  Then make decisions and act in such a way that applies what you have learned.  Remember, we are supposed to be the salt of the earth, not the tofu.  We are to season, not be seasoned.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Educated Ignoramus

(Proverbs 1:5 KJV)  A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

One way to know who has wisdom and is listening is to see someone “increase” (3254) in what they are “learning” (3948).  This is the mark of wisdom:  You learn.  But I think it goes beyond that.  It involves the kind of learning that processes what you retain, puts it together and uses it to evaluate the new material coming in.

We live in a society that compartmentalizes knowledge.  We have a term, “idiot savant,” that seems to describe a person who is a genius in one area and totally useless in others.  If you pull in the extreme edges of the idea you get an “educated ignoramus.”  This describes the greatest number of people in the world.  If your entire focus is on the Bible, and you pay no attention to what is going on politically, God has a hard time making you a useful part of His eternal plan.  If you follow every political blog known to man and can recite all of the bills before congress but have no idea of the fruit of the Spirit, you are just as useless.

None of us are totally informed.  We all have gaps and weaknesses.  That is part of being human.  Get used to it.  But when God created us in His image, one of the characteristics of God is that He is a thinking, aware Being.  What was the tree that Adam and Eve ate from?  The tree of good and evil?  No, it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 
(Genesis 2:9 KJV)  And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
This is adult knowledge.  This is the age of accountability.  This means that whatever our intellectual level we are responsible for using our minds as well as our hands.  We are to seek wisdom.  That means we must “hear” (8085) and “increase” (3254).  That will be different in each person but it must be there.

So?  Listen.  To the sermon, to the Sunday School lesson, to the written word, to the voice of the Holy Spirit in your heart and mind.  And expect to increase.  Adam and Eve cursed you with the knowledge of good and evil.  God wants to bless you with the tree of life.