Proverbs 12:1-14: Be Wise!
August 14, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Again, it is possible to discern some grouping of these Proverbs into themes.
It begins with an overarching statement about discipline:
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid” (12:1).
In our culture—even in many of our churches—discipline is a negative word. Parents fear to discipline their children, and so create spoiled brats who hurt others and most of all themselves. Churches fear to discipline their members (or, as was more common in the past, turn discipline into legalistic control techniques, which is no biblical discipline at all) and thereby create doctrinally spineless, moral amoebas. No wonder the winds of false doctrine and ethical foolishness blow through our culture and churches unhindered: there is no discipline! Instead, we are to love discipline. Without it, how could we ever come to know anything? You need discipline to study. You need discipline to learn. You need discipline to know someone intimately—rather than the dissolution that leads to a superficial connection that means not really knowing anyone at all. You need discipline to know someone intimately—rather everyone not at all. Love discipline.
This section of Proverbs then moves on to focus on moral behavior—or righteousness as that word is predominately used in this section:
“Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes” (12:2).
“No one can be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted” (12:3).
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones” (12:4).
“The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful” (12:5).
“The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them” (12:6).
“The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm” (12:7).
It moves from what is most important (the commendation of God, verse 2), to what people most often desire (success, verse 3), to what is so often neglected (a healthy marriage, verse 4), to making decisions and plans (verse 5), to speech (verse 6), to the final verdict (“The wicked are overthrown…, but the house of the righteous stands firm, verse 7). The golden thread that runs through it all is character. Oh, my friend, if you must invest in one thing, invest in character—godly character, Christlike character.
Having covered discipline, then character, this section of Proverbs then moves to prudence (another much despised virtue today):
“A person is praised according to their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised” (12:8).
“Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food” (12:9).
“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel” (12:10).
“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense” (12:11).
“The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers, but the root of the righteous endures” (12:12).
Prudence is the very opposite of what is praised today: passion. You won’t find a conference dedicated to “prudence,” but you’ll find movements that gather around desire or passion. There is a place for passion, when we are passionate about the right things. But there is also a place for prudence. Where is there praise for prudence today? Prudence stops you from becoming a dirty old man with a disgusting mind and a leering look (12:8). Prudence protects you from investing all your savings in a fancy car, boat, or house and then going bankrupt (12:9). Prudence is not meanness but kindness; in fact, the righteous even care for animals, while the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel, for they are not bound by prudence, but let their venom run free (12:10). Prudence stops you from chasing the get-rich-quick schemes, investing in pyramid schemes, and instead steadily work for a living (12:11). Prudence protects you, then, even when you are attacked by wicked enemies. They can take your laptop, search your browser, go through your email, look at your tax return, and still find nothing to condemn you (12:12). Prudence may not be fashionable, but it is highly valuable. Be prudent.
Then this section of Proverbs concludes with a word or two about words:
“Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk, and so the innocent escape trouble” (12:13).
“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward” (12:14).
Some people use words to attack, but such evil speech in the end backfires on the one speaking (12:13), while the innocent go free. By contrast, good speech can give a good living, just as much as working with your hands can do the same (12:14).
Once again, reading Proverbs proves its worth. Be wise by being disciplined, building good character, being prudent, and speaking healthy words!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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