Proverbs are all around us. Whether we realize it or not we seem to recite and live by them every single day. Don’t believe it? Have you heard or thought these modern proverbs at all in the last week?
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
- Too many cooks in the kitchen
- Beggars can’t be choosers
- The grass is always greener on the other side
- Many hands make light work
These axioms are proverbs: short statements of insightful truth. By and large, we accept these claims as generally and usually helpful. We budget our time by the proverb “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We try to limit how many decision makers are involved on a project at work by the axiom, “too many cooks in the kitchen.” And when moving from one home to another, we are relieved that in truth, “many hands do make light work”.
Curiously though, when it comes to biblical proverbs, something in us cringes. We find our inner rebel and sinner has a knee-jerk reaction against the obvious wisdom and truth of the Bible’s proverbs. Within our hearts we each want to be in charge and we brazenly think we know what is best for us. Often times, we subtly make things like pleasure, comfort, and security our idols and chief guides in life. As a result, we follow warped and twisted proverbs that are agents of deceit and bondage rather than life and freedom. We buy the lie that “I was born this way,” or “it’s just a little white lie,” or “I am entitled to this.” While these false proverbs often bring us a temporary salve for whatever ails us, in the end the life, pleasure, and hope they offer are fleeting.
In contrast, biblical proverbs offer true life. While common axioms today promise instant gratification, true proverbs from Scripture often promise the exact opposite. For example, Proverbs 10:19-21 warns “too much talk leads to sin, be sensible and keep your mouth shut…the words of the godly encourage many but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.” While our culture tells us to openly “speak your mind,” the Lord frequently commands exactly the opposite precisely because He knows the destruction an unbridled mouth can bring. Our culture provides dozens of real life examples of the destruction words can bring. From Sony executives’ embarrassment over racist jokes aimed at President Obama to FIFA World Cup President Sepp Blatter’s laughable assertion that the soccer organization should police itself even as they face multi-million dollar international racketeering charges, we see in the media and in our own lives daily, that when we multiply words, we inevitably speak foolishly and sinfully.
For that very reason, Proverbs warns us to limit the words we say, and use them to encourage others, rather than destroy ourselves in our own arrogant foolishness. While certainly less than appealing in the short run or in the heated conflict of today, the wisdom of Proverbs clearly offers us true life and health when we choose to guard our words and carefully exam and weigh the intentions of our hearts.
Join us this summer as we work through the book of Proverbs together. We hope you will join us as we study God’s Word together and learn how His way, so often radically different than our own, offers us hope, healing, and in the end, life eternal.