Wisdom and Discipline

Wisdom and Discipline

Quite often it seems we only learn things the hard way. We do something wrong, pay a price for it, and subsequently conclude, “Well, that was foolish. I guess I shouldn’t do that again.” But what if there was a way to bypass “the school of hard knocks”? What if there was a place we could go to learn about mistakes before we make them and avoid the pitfalls and heartaches that come from those mistakes? Good news! Such a place actually exists. It is called the book of Proverbs.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (besides Jesus) gave us the wise sayings and teachings contained in Proverbs so we could learn wisdom and discipline (1:2). Wisdom and discipline go hand in hand. Wisdom is that which helps us know the best course of action whereas discipline is what we must have to take the best course of action. Solomon gives an example in Proverbs 1:10-19. Sinners entice a person to join with them in ambushing and killing someone just for the fun of it and in order to take that person’s property and fill their houses with plunder. The thinking behind such action is this: we can do something wrong and something good will come from it. This is what the world says time and time again. Athletes think that taking steroids is the best path to defeat their opponents. Unhappy spouses think an affair is the way to find the fulfillment they yearn for. Young people think that getting high and drunk with their peers is the pathway to happiness and popularity.

Solomon shows that such thinking is erroneous, foolish, and deadly. The wise course of action, therefore, is to exercise the discipline it takes to resist the path sinners suggest and to pursue a better one. He even gives a compelling reason why taking the path sinners suggest is so foolish: people who think like this “set an ambush to kill themselves; they attack their own lives” (Prov. 1:18 CSB).

The right approach, says Solomon, is to come at life from an entirely different perspective. Instead of allowing yourself to be persuaded by sinners (1:10), fear the Lord and listen to your parents, says Solomon:

The fear of the LORD

is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,

and don’t reject your mother’s teaching,

for they will be a garland of favor on your head

and pendants around your neck (1:7-9 CSB).

You don’t have to make mistake after mistake. You can heed the wise counsel of the world’s wisest man. By doing that you will be wise even when if you are young.

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