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Getting wise

These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people. — Proverbs 1:4

The information age has near-fully matured. For years we have “surfed the Web,” but not long ago “surf” was something bleached-blond youths rode to shore, and “webs” were what spiders worked hard to create. But now one surfs the Web from the comfort of home to seek information. We “access” it, “download” it, and store it in computers that allow us to gather vast amounts of information about the world in which we live.

But amassing information is not the same as being wise. Information informs us, to be sure, but wisdom tells us what to do with the information. Collected information tells you what is possible, while wisdom tells you what is prudent. Not all knowledgeable people are wise; sometimes they do bad things with good information. Not all wise people are among the world’s most knowledgeable; some of them don’t know much, but they do wonderful things with very little. Wisdom cannot operate without information; but information does not guarantee wisdom.

Proverbs are pithy sayings that stick in the mind, conveying a needed truth. Proverbs lead to wisdom. Some of them beget discipline. For example, “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!” (Proverbs 11:27). Good information there; but wisdom says, “Aha! I’d better watch what I’m looking for!” Other proverbs teach good conduct. Here’s a proverb that helps in this regard: “It is better to be poor and godly than rich and dishonest” (16:8). A wise man takes that to heart, sees the truth of it, and decides that honesty is not only the best policy but the only policy for the wise. And so he deals honestly.

Proverbs need to be read, remembered, meditated upon, and performed. They impart pure knowledge, they offer sweet rewards, they administer stern warnings, and they demand disciplined responses. When proverbs are considered carefully and embraced wholeheartedly, they nourish deeply, redirecting convictions and dramatically changing lives.

Man is in danger of becoming a giant in information and a pygmy in wisdom. As he concentrates on assimilating facts, he runs the risk of neglecting matters of faith. He is at risk of dressing himself in information with nothing to clothe his life. That is why we need to learn the proverbs: they “will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people” (1:4).

Yes, wisdom will crown us with grace and clothe our lives with honor (1:9). That’s much better than bare information!

For further study: Proverbs 1:1-9

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.