Jesus speaking in Matthew 7:13-14:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
So which path are you choosing to take?
Let God’s Word be a Lamp unto your feet.
It all starts with the wisdom and knowledge of God…
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov 9:10).
Solomon the son of David was the wisest, richest, and most honored of the kings of Israel (1 Kgs. 3:12, 13; 4:30, 31).
He spoke three thousand proverbs, but only some of them are preserved in this book.
These extend from 1:1 to 29:27.
(vv. 2–6) tell us why he wrote these proverbs. In brief, they provide practical wisdom for the living and management of life.
Here people may learn shrewdness and receive the kind of instruction that provides know-how.
Here they may learn to perceive the words of understanding, to discern between what is good and evil, profitable and worthless, helpful and harmful.
Here men are schooled in what is wise, righteous, proper, and honorable.
By listening to these proverbs the simple develop prudence or “savvy,” and young people gain insight and sanctified common sense.
Wise men will grow wiser by heeding these proverbs, and a man of understanding will learn how to guide himself and to advise others as well.
Is it not significant that a book addressed primarily to youth should announce at the very outset,
“A wise man will hear?”
That is what is meant by a wise person in the book of Proverbs.
It is one who is teachable. He is willing to listen and not do all the talking.
He is not an insufferable know-it-all.
The book is designed to enable a person to understand a proverb and an enigma, i.e., the lesson which often lies beneath the surface.
It helps him to grasp the meaning of wise sayings and the hidden truths contained in them.
(v. 7) Having stated his purpose in writing the proverbs, Solomon now gives his first and perhaps most important piece of instruction.
The beginning point for becoming a wise person is the fear of the LORD.
To fear the Lord does not mean to be frightened of Him.
Rather, it means to revere Him, to honor Him, to give Him the proper place in one’s life.
If a person does not start out at the right place, he cannot expect to end up at the right place.
Fearing the Lord is the place to begin in gaining wisdom to live life skillfully.
In contrast to the person who is wise and discerning because he fears the Lord, Solomon spotlights the fool.
Fools despise wisdom and discipline.
To despise means “to hold in contempt, to belittle, to ridicule” (Num. 15:31; Neh. 2:19).
If anyone holds God in contempt, he will never be a wise person, and he will tend to live his life in violation of God’s will.
This will bring trouble into his life.
As a man sows, that shall he also reap.
A person cannot break the laws of God. He can only break himself against them when he violates them.
Solomon is giving us an implicit choice: fear God or be a fool. There seems to be no middle ground.
In this present age of information and technology, we have plenty of head knowledge at our fingertips.
But true knowledge—what the Bible calls wisdom—is all too scarce.
Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot. It requires a basic mind-set that affects every aspect of life.
This mind-set is characterized by an eager desire to learn from God, from experience, and from others.
The foundation of true knowledge, or wisdom, is to fear the Lord, which means to revere, honor, and respect Him, to live in awe of His power, and to obey His Word.
Doing so will affect your identity, your attitudes, your actions, and your future.
Keep drawing close to God—learn who He is, why He created this world, and what He wants you to know.
Then you will be truly wise.
One of the most annoying types of people is the know-it-all, the person who has a dogmatic opinion about everything, is closed to anything new, resents discipline, and refuses to learn.
Solomon calls this kind of person a fool.
Don’t be a know-it-all. Instead, be open to the advice of others, especially those who know you well and can give you valuable insight and counsel.
Discover what others have to teach you; learn how to learn from others. Remember, only God knows it all.
(v. 8) Actions do, indeed, speak louder than our words.
This is especially true in the family.
Children learn values, morals, and priorities by observing how their parents act and react every day.
How they understand the world is shaped by how their parents go about their daily living.
If parents and grandparents exhibit a deep reverence for and dependence on God, children will catch these attitudes.
If you have children in your care, let them see your respect for God.
Be an example of godly living by praying, worshiping, and reading the Bible with them and with others.
Make sure they see how you act out your faith in a way that’s consistent with God’s Word.
Proverbs places the responsibility for raising children to become wise adults squarely on fathers and mothers.
Parents must bring their children up to honor God and know His Word.
If you are a parent, rely on God for help every day.
Read the Bible and seek wise Christian counsel on how to disciple your children.
If you are living at home with your parent or parents, ask God to teach you through them.
(vv. 10-19) Sin can often be enticing because it cloaks itself in the disguises of fun, pleasure, happiness, riches, comfort, popularity, and fame.
Sin convinces us that we deserve these things at any cost.
When we refuse to listen to and live by God’s truth, our appetites become our masters, and we’ll do anything to satisfy them.
Sin, even when attractive, is deadly.
We must learn to make choices not on the basis of flashy appeal or short-range pleasure but in view of the long-range effects.
Wisdom for this is clearly outlined in God’s Word.
Sometimes this will mean steering clear of people who want to draw us into activities that we know are sinful.
We can’t be friendly with sin and expect to remain unaffected.
So go ahead and enjoy the life God has given you, but enjoy it within the boundaries articulated in His Word.
Eventually, sin will always lead to devastating consequences.
Being “greedy for money” is one of Satan’s surest traps.
He sets the bait when he plants the suggestion in our minds that we can’t live without something.
Then the desire for it fans its own fire until it becomes an all-consuming obsession as we move closer and closer to getting it, oblivious of the trap where it rests.
Ask God for wisdom to recognize any greedy desire before it closes around you and won’t let you go.
If that happens, it is exceedingly difficult to get free.
If you daily seek God’s wisdom, you will have more discerning eyes to recognize and avoid the traps in front of you.
As Ravi Zacharias said,
“Sin will always take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
(v. 20) The picture of wisdom calling aloud in the streets is personification—a literary device used to make wisdom come alive for us, speaking and acting as if it were a real person.
Wisdom is not a separate being; it is the mind of God revealed.
One way to see wisdom in action is to read the stories about Jesus in the Gospels, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
When Jesus, the Son of God, lived a human life on earth, He lived it perfectly.
He is the perfect model for what wisdom in action looks like.
So to understand how to become wise, we should listen to wisdom calling and instructing us in the book of Proverbs and study wisdom in action in the life of Jesus.
For a New Testament call to wisdom, see James 1:5.
In the book of Proverbs, those who are simple or fools do not have a mental deficiency but a character deficiency.
Foolish people are not dumb or stupid, but they are naive to God’s way of living and unable or unwilling to tell right from wrong or good from bad.
(vv. 23-28) God gladly pours out His heart and makes known His thoughts to us.
To receive His words, however, we must be willing to listen.
Not paying attention to God, refusing to listen to Him, ignoring His advice, and rejecting His correction are all evidences of pride.
Pride is thinking more highly of our own ideas and courses of action than God’s.
If we think that we know better than God or that we have no need of His direction, we are showing that foolish pride has a grip on our hearts.
And pride is so dangerous because it hardens our hearts against the only one who can help us see what is really true and help us live in a way that is truly free.
(v. 31) Many proverbs point out the consequences people experience (the “bitter fruit of living their own way”) for the destructive choices they make.
Faced with either choosing God’s wisdom or persisting in rebellious independence, many decide to go it alone.
The problems such people create for themselves will destroy them.
Don’t ignore God’s advice, even if it is painful for the present. It will keep you from greater pain in the future.
Paul in Romans 6:23 warns us…
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Max Lucado’s Life Lessons (Proverbs 1:1–33)…
Proverbs provide wisdom and guidance for living an obedient life. Simple words and common sense give us guidelines for daily life.
The Proverbs contain many instructions to help steer readers away from sin.
Listen to this advice and grow in wisdom. God’s wisdom is superior to all others.
Inspiration Peter announced:
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Many recoil at such definitiveness.
John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds.
The world is shrinking, cultures are blending, borders are bending; this is the day of inclusion.
All roads lead to heaven, right?
But can they?
The sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but is it accurate?
Can all approaches to God be correct?
Islam says Jesus was not crucified.
Christians say He was.
Both can’t be right.
Judaism refuses the claim of Christ as the Messiah.
Christians accept it.
Someone’s making a mistake.
Buddhists look toward Nirvana, achieved after no less than 547 reincarnations.
Christians believe in one life, one death, and an eternity of enjoying God.
Doesn’t one view exclude the other?
Humanists do not acknowledge a creator of life.
Jesus claims to be the Source of life.
One of the two speaks folly.
Spiritists read your palms.
Christians consult the Bible.
Hindus perceive a plural and impersonal God.
Christ-followers believe “there is no other God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4).
Somebody is wrong.
And, most supremely, every non-Christian religion says, “You can save you.”
Jesus says, “My death on the Cross saves you.”
How can all religions lead to God when they are so different? . . .
Every path does not lead to God!
Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation.
He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort.
Christ came, not for the strong, but for the weak; not for the righteous, but for the sinner.
We enter His way upon confession of our need, not completion of our deeds.
He offers a unique-to-Him invitation in which He works and we trust, He dies and we live, He invites and we believe.
(From 3:16 by Max Lucado)
Today you may be bombarded by people giving advice—talk show hosts, psychics, psychologists.
Take more time to listen to God than to television.
At the end of the day, assess which words of wisdom you applied (or should have).
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Monday, July 04
Today in the Word
Wisdom from Above
A FATHER’S WARNING
10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait to shed blood;
Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,
We shall fill our houses with spoil;
14 Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse”—
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
16 For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely, in vain the net is spread
In the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.
For centuries, parents have warned their children not to fall in with the wrong crowd.
They worry that the bad behaviors of other young people will influence their children.
This can even be true later in our lives; the people we choose to spend our time with can have a profound influence on us.
In today’s Proverb, a father talks to his son about the dangers of following “sinful” men (v. 10).
One commentator compares these sinful men to a modern-day gang.
The gang offers protection and invites the young newcomer to join them (v. 10).
They promise that if he goes along with their evil schemes to hurt and steal, he will get rich (vv. 11–14).
The father’s warning is clear.
“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them” (v. 10).
The father sees beyond the immediate lure of their promises.
Nothing that this sinful group does will prosper. In fact, they will bring harm down on themselves and on his son.
“Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it” (v. 19).
This passage can be interpreted not only as a relationship between a father and son, but as God speaking to His people.
In Proverbs, the covenant relationship is explored using poetic language.
Here, Solomon paints a vivid picture of the dangers of murder, theft, and covetousness, clearly referencing God’s commands given to His people:
“You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13),
“You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15), and
“You shall not covet” (Ex. 20:17).
With compelling imagery, the author shows the dire results of breaking God’s commands.
We must listen to the guidance given by our heavenly Father. He truly knows best.
It is easy to let other voices talk us into doing things we know are not right, things that break God’s commands.
We may justify our behavior because it produces pleasing short-term results.
The warning is clear: be careful of the company you keep!
Pray with Us
Lord, sometimes we have the wisdom to recognize what is right, but we lack the nerve to follow through. Today we ask for the discipline to choose wisdom above personal gain or man’s good opinion.
Come join the Adventure!