The Way of the Wise and How to Know if You Are On It
Sunday, January 28, 2007 -
Are you a wise person? The book of Proverbs takes all the guesswork out of that question. It’s not just a matter of personal opinion. Proverbs gives definitive standards by which our lives and attitudes can be measured:
1) A WISE PERSON IS HUMBLE ENOUGH TO RESTRAIN HIS OWN INSTINCTS AND RECEIVE BOTH CORRECTION AND INSTRUCTION
Proverbs 14:12 - “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
If all sin looked like sin right away, there would be no problem. But usually, due to our fallen nature, what seems right isn’t always in fact right. My opinion that something is right and good doesn’t make it right and good. Even having the standard of wisdom and righteousness (God’s law) isn’t enough. Knowing the truth and walking in the truth aren’t the same thing.
Usually (and this is the problem) before I can admit that God is right, I have to admit I am wrong. Wisdom is always costly. And humility is the price.
Proverbs 9:8-9 - “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
Proverbs 15:33 - “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
Proverbs 17:10 - “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”
2) A WISE PERSON, UPON HUMBLY RECEIVING INSTRUCTION FROM THE LORD, IMMEDIATELY TURNS FROM EVIL WITHOUT SHRINKING FROM THE COST OF DOING SO
Proverbs 3:7-8 - “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
It is not enough to love God’s law as the religious addition to the rest of your life. For God’s ways to bring blessing and make you wise you must immediately “turn away from evil.”
Proverbs 14:16 - “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”
The truth stressed in these words is that wisdom brings a heightened sensibility to the danger of evil. The foolish person is marked by “arrogance” when facing wickedness. He underestimates the danger and overestimates his strength. The wise person senses the potential danger long before he is caught in its grip.
Our world actually admires and encourages people, especially young people, to be arrogant, bold and self-expressive in areas of life that would be much better faced with caution and fear of evil. See 2 Chronicles 25:14-16 to see this principle illustrated in the life of King Amaziah.- “After Amaziah came from striking down the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them.  Therefore the Lord was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, "Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?"  But as he was speaking, the king said to him, "Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?" So the prophet stopped, but said, "I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel."
3) A WISE PERSON THINKS BEFORE HE SPEAKS
Proverbs 15:23 & 28 - “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!.... The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”
Wise words are pondered words. They are fueled by obedience and consideration rather than emotion. That means not all our words should be offered right at the first opportunity. There should be a proper sense of control and timing in the things we say.
Notice especially verse 28, and the description of the kind of word - perhaps the most difficult to control - that is being talked about. The writer is talking about answering words - “the heart of the righteous ponders how to answer”
These are the hardest words of all. The words that come out of your mouth when you’re blamed, accused or tested. It’s so easy to just respond without due thought. Anger or self-defense can take over. If you can take the time to “ponder” your words will be more pleasing to the Lord.
4) A WISE PERSON KEEPS HIS TEMPER
Proverbs 19:11 - “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” The time for exercising “discretion” lies between the moment we feel anger and the moment we express it. This is where wisdom reveals itself.
5) A WISE PERSON RESISTS PEER PRESSURE
Proverbs 1:10 - “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”
Read the context of those words in Proverbs 1:7-10 - “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching,  for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.  My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”
This is a person who has all the right things in place in his life. There has been good instruction. The “fear of the Lord” has been properly instilled. Instruction and teaching have not only been heard, but have actually come to reside and decorate the life - “Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck”(9). But all of this can be undone if the pull of sinner’s enticement isn’t carefully noted and resisted. The wise person remembers what’s at stake in small daily decisions. He knows that fools never like to sin alone.