This is the fourth study in the series about Decisions: Seeking God’s Guidance:
Proverbs 3:1-26, the purpose is to help recognize the factors that make for a wise decision.
Although knowledge will help us in making decisions, it is even more critical that we choose wisely. Wisdom combines good judgment, knowledge, experience and understanding, but it is different than any of these.
What was created even before the world was founded? Proverbs 8:22-31, 3:19-20
What is a definition of wisdom? After listening to each other, how would you now change your answers?
- Accumulated philosophic or scientific learning (knowledge)
- Ability to discern inner qualities and relationships (insight)
- Good sense (judgment)
- Generally accepted belief
- The ability to see beneath the surface of things
- A wise attitude, belief, or course of action
- The teachings of the ancient wise men
What is wisdom? What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?
The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” This is a theme that is recurring throughout the Bible. We know that knowledge, on the other hand, is defined as having information through experience, reasoning or acquaintance. God wants us to have knowledge of him and what he expects of us. But equally important is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to having wisdom.
Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5 says “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Wisdom is what God will bless us with in order for us to glorify Him with the knowledge we have of Him.
The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best book in the Bible to study when seeking to learn biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 also clearly explains what it means to have biblical knowledge: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” When we fear the Lord, which is the most basic form of knowledge, God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Jesus, whom the Bible says is wisdom itself. “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, reveals itself by acting upon that knowledge. In other words, knowledge manifesting itself in any given situation through wisdom. If one lacks knowledge, he will also lack wisdom. The two go hand-in-hand.
Who do you consider to be wise? How has his or her wisdom been demonstrated?
The book of Proverbs offers practical advice through poetry; short, pithy sayings; and vivid comparisons. The main point of the book is that we should always seek the wisdom of God.
1. This passage describes many benefits of wisdom. Which of them are most attractive to you?
2. According to Proverbs 3:1-12, what characterizes a wise decision?
Wise decisions consist of following wise teaching, being motivated by love and faithfulness, trusting in the Lord, going God’s way instead of our way, giving to God generously, and submitting to God’s discipline. A decision made on the basis of these criteria is promised to bring great reward.
3. Why is a commitment to “love and faithfulness” (Proverbs 3:3) important to making a wise decision?
A decision that is based on love and faithfulness is given the promise of winning favor with God and humanity. A decision that is NOT motivated by love and faithfulness will allow us to become self-serving.
4. Some people would argue that it is unwise to trust anyone but yourself. How would you answer them after reading Proverbs 3:5-8?
Proverbs 3:5-8 “are to Christ’s disciples what the wedding ceremony is to newlyweds. They spell out what is and is not to be done within the relationship. They set the terms of what it means to live with God at the outset of our commitment to Him and through every step of our pilgrimage. They are the ‘to have and to hold from this day forward’ of our marriage-covenant with God” (David Hubbard).
5. Why is it wise to “honor the Lord with your wealth” (Proverbs 3:9) instead of spending it on yourself? How have you done this?
The principle of firstfruits comes from Deuteronomy 26:1-15. It is the practice of giving God the first produce to ripen and be harvested. To give the firstfruits is an act of trust because the giver has no guarantee that the rest of the crop will actually be harvested. “Prosperity, gratitude, and charity are an indivisible triad of experiences in biblical thought, and notably in Proverbs” (Hubbard).
6. How do people today “despise the Lord’s discipline” (Proverbs 3:11)?
To “despise” and “reject” God’s discipline is the opposite of the trust that is spoken of in Proverbs 3:5-8. People despise discipline when they live in denial, make excuses or pass blame.
7. What role has God’s discipline played in making you wiser (Proverbs 3:11-12)?
8. What makes wisdom so valuable (Proverbs 3:13-17)?
Wisdom is valuable because it provides understanding, brings prosperity, lengthens a person’s life and gives peace.
9. How can you “embrace” wisdom (Proverbs 3:18)?
10. According to Proverbs 3:19-26, what can wisdom accomplish?
We know that our world is a fruit of God’s wisdom (Proverbs 3:19-20). Since we can clearly see what God’s wisdom has already accomplished, the author now assures us of what it can do for each of us personally. Wisdom will give us life, keep us safe, banish fear and build our confidence.
11. In what ways are you like and unlike the person described in Proverbs 3:2l-26?
12. What can you do to become more like the wise person pictured here?
13. What have these proverbs taught you about wisdom and how to find it?
Pray for godly wisdom in the decisions you face.
Now or Later: Read Jesus’ parable about wisdom and foolishness in Matthew 7:24-27.
The wise and foolish man both faced the same decision where and how to build a house-but they made very different choices.
- What factors do you think influenced their decision making process?
- Why are so many foundations built on sand?
- What does this parable teach you about making wise choices and avoiding foolish ones?
Open Bible Notes:
- Proverbs 3:1-2 – The connection between keeping God’s commands and enjoying long life is supported by the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12).
- Proverbs 3:5-6 – These verses, worthy of being memorized, which sum up the biblical approach to life. Wisdom is not the result of mere human insight, but of learning God’s unchanging ways.
- Proverbs 3:7 – Fear the LORD … depart from evil (see Job 1:1).
- Proverbs 3:9 – To honor the LORD meant to give Him the portion of material goods that He required (Deuteronomy 26:1-2, 9-13). Firstfruits were the first items harvested, and often the best.
- Proverbs 3:24-26 – Serving God saves us from many fears.
- Proverbs 3:27-30 – The wise person does not delay payment. Delay may lead to misunderstanding and strife.
Your heart (Proverbs 3:1-8). What you do with your heart determines what you do with your life (Proverbs 4:23).
- Cultivate an obedient heart (Proverbs 3:1) that
- Receives God’s Word (Proverbs 3:3, 2 Corinthians 3:1-3) and
- A trusting heart that obeys (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Proverbs 3:5 does not suggest that you ignore your mind or common sense, but that you not lean only on them and reject God’s way.
Your possessions (Proverbs 3:9-20). Put God first in the way you use His wealth (Matthew 6:33) and major on the things that money cannot buy (Proverbs 3:13-18). When God corrects you, accept it as an evidence of His love (Hebrews 12:5-6).
Your conduct (Proverbs 3:21-26). Let every part of your body be controlled by God’s wisdom (Romans 12:1-2). Restful sleep is one of the tests of faith and true surrender to God (Psalm 4:8).
Your neighbors (Proverbs 3:27-35). If you want God’s blessing on your home, be a blessing to those around you. Share what you have and never plan evil against others (Romans 12:9-21).