A wise man is strong,
Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;
For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,
And in a multitude of counselors there is safety. Prov 24:5-6
My dad always told me to choose my battles well. I have passed that bit of wisdom on to my children and to those I minister to. It’s one of those bits of wisdom that I regularly need to adhere to myself, so it’s easy for me to remember. We all get upset and angry over various things, but how do we go about handling those situations? Do we just go off on the first person we see and will listen to us? Do we attack instead of talking things out? Do we ask questions to get the full story or do we assume we have enough information and pursue? These are questions that need to be answered if we are going to confront people and situations to bring things in alignment with God’s will.
Many times we don’t follow the main instructions of the New Testament about confronting by having patience and proceeding with love and gentleness. Paul wrote to Timothy, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” 2 Tim 2:24-26. The theme of the passage is to help people change for the good and in such a way as not to alienate them with our use of words. You can’t help someone if they quit listening to you. Yes, there are times when you need to get their attention, but that’s an exception to the rule, not the rule. It needs to be done, if at all, as a last resort. Don’t quarrel! You’ve lost the battle if you go there. Be gentle, teach others in the way you approach the situation, use patience in all circumstances, and when you correct someone use humility. Boy, those are words to live by. How are you doing at relating to those around you? Keep trying; don’t be trying!
In the Proverb above, a person is strong when they pursue wisdom and knowledge in life situations. Some of you out there can listen to instruction, or observe someone else’s mistake and learn from it, so that you don’t make the same mistake. God bless you in that ability. But others, like myself, have had to learn things the hard way. Sometimes it takes several times to learn the lesson. Yikes! The greatest thing we can do in life is to gain knowledge so that we can proceed in wisdom. When you read the Proverbs, you will read over and over again, that the wise person does the right thing and the fool doesn’t. Yes, I just said that I’ve been a fool at times, but I don’t want to stay there, so I keep trying to add knowledge to how I proceed in life. What we need to do is fear God’s wrath and pursue wisdom, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” Prov 1:7
The greatest resource for this is the Bible that God has given us. The knowledge you need comes from studying your Bible; not just reading it, even though that is a good start. Peter wrote to the church, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” 2 Peter 1:2-3. In life, you will need to go to other sources for knowledge of a certain field, but the knowledge you receive from God and Jesus in the Bible should be the basis of all other knowledge. Not that the sources need to be from God, but that you read and learn them with God and His knowledge in mind as you study. The word of God needs to be so ingrained in our lives that everything we learn outside of the Bible is seen through the lenses of God’s word. Many people have this backwards. They think that they should learn things from the world and then try to make God fit into it. No, first have God in your life so you can see how the information you learn applies to how God wants you to live your life. It takes, having the notion firmly planted into your knowledge, that all good things are from God. How we obtain and use the information we receive will determine whether we are following God or Satan; good or what leads to evil.
The next part of the Proverb above is directed at whether you obtain knowledge by your own means, or whether you share your ideas with others to see how thoughts pan out. I used to work in a plywood mill that had many jobs that were mundane at best. Guys would have their headphones on and listen to talk radio. Many times, their attitudes would get hard and nasty. Sometimes they would finally unleash all this information they had stored up and you better hide behind something. What they had been filling themselves with was caustic, and taken in for an extended time, turned them caustic. If they took the time to share what they had heard in a humane way, they often would be able to put the information into the right context, with the help of others knowledge and input. There’s a proverb that goes along with this also, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15. That’s the way it is with learning God’s word. If we are reading and studying just by ourselves it has the possibility of becoming all jumbled up, but if we are able to share our thought of what we have learned with those around us, it helps us to put the information into context. So, the writer of the proverb encourages us all to seek counsel before we go into a situation all fired up.
There are a couple of other proverbs that go along with the ones we have been looking at. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” Prov 11:14 and “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” Prov 15:22. It seems as though it is important to seek counsel with someone or others that can help you make sense of your life situations. I miss my dad, because he was someone that I could share ideas with and he would help me sort it out. My wife is also a good counsel to share thoughts with. It’s good to have someone you trust to be a sounding board for your ideas. But, it’s important to not just share them with anybody that happens by, but to seek someone that you consider to be wise, so that you may become wise, “A wise man (person) will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” Prov 1:5. To become wise, you need to associate with wise people that help you to become wise, not someone who will act foolishly with your thoughts. Many times, you will need to seek out more than one wise counsel to get consideration from different viewpoints. The main thought here is to seek wise counsel and there is no better counsel than God through prayer and studying His word. If you can find a group that is doing that together, you might just have found a multitude of counselors to help you become established and find safety in a good answer.
Wisdom isn’t something that happens overnight, but is a process that occurs over many years. What is wise to us at the time, may not be wise when it is acted upon. We need the counsel of wise people, and ones that have our best interests in mind, not just whoever is available at the moment. We need to learn by what we read, hear, and observe to keep us from learning the hard way. When we make bad decisions, we need to learn from them so we can be wiser the next time. And above all, we need to follow what this next proverb has to say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” Prov 3:5-6. Trusting in the Lord with all our heart is the wisest thing I can share with you. So many times, we try to take on decisions and situations on our own without the Lord, and the direction He might give us to take is lost. We need to spend more time in prayer, allowing God to direct our thoughts, and not leaning on our own understanding. We need to humble ourselves in prayer, so that our own thoughts don’t interfere with what God is trying to get across to us. May God guide and direct you in your life so that you can make the wisest decisions possible. I love you all, Doug.