Proverbs, Prudence, and Practical Faith
Updated: May 2, 2020
In my last blog, I shared about how I was really struggling to find hope when I was weighed down by fear and despair. On every platform I am inundated by scary medical stories, weird political posts, and strange teachings about plagues and the end of the world. I see some people afraid to walk their dogs and others hugging perfect strangers at protests. I get concerned by the responses people have to how to walk out social distancing. It's hard to narrow down right from wrong because we all have different lives during this time in our world.
I began listening to a series of podcasts on Andy Stanley's site, Your Move, and was inspired by a series called, Guardrails. Andy's goal is to empower the listener with the reality that we have choices and we can make good choices before we get ourselves in trouble. He repeats in the series, that I'll paraphrase, that guardrails are placed on roads before there is danger. He offers hope that even when we may have made mistakes we regret, we can put the right guardrails in our lives before it's too late. Proverbs 8 became a guardrail for me and gave me hope.
I find the Bible often has good insight into daily decision making. Proverbs 8 happened to be the next passage in a Bible study I started and I found great comfort in the word, prudence. Proverbs 8:1-5 (NASB) says, "Does not wisdom call, and understanding lift up her voice? On top of the heights beside the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates, at the opening to the city, at the entrance of the doors, she cries out: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. “O naive ones, understand prudence; and, O fools, understand wisdom." I have to admit I didn't like the word naive or prudence at first. They were words that Jane Austin used in her literary works, but as I looked more into the meanings of these words I found a sense of self-direction and peace.
Wisdom in the passage is not an ideology, it is an entity deeply invested in humanity and its success. Wisdom isn't portrayed as a gut emotion, or passive feeling. Rather, it cries out and meets me at the moments in my life when I need to make a choice. Wisdom always agrees with righteousness and life. It never agrees with death and evil. Wisdom shouts and takes a stand. Wisdom tells me to own my choices and offers grace to make better ones. Verse five tells the naive to understand prudence, and tells the fool to understand wisdom. These calls to action are what allows for practical faith to take root in me.
Prudence has a few different definitions in different dictionaries, but basically prudence is a better word for making good decisions for yourself. Naive implies simple and uninformed. Right now I am naive to the state of affairs regarding our national crisis with Covid-19. I am naive to treatment plans. I am naive to the local, state, federal, and world impact this virus continues to have. Being naive doesn't make me stupid, but it allows me to give myself over to understanding prudence by acting with caution and making practical decisions in regard to my own personal interests. Wisdom is offered to the fool who thinks that prudence isn't relevant. I'm not concerned with the fool, I'm called to understand prudence.
Wisdom is available to everyone. It meets me before I need to make a decision and offers me understanding even when I am naive. On the hilltop, the pathway, and at the places I need to make a decision, wisdom is there. Wisdom tells me to listen, and watch daily for it at my door post. I'm promised that when I don't know what to do, prudence will produce practical faith. I can't speak to the other ways people are choosing to address social distancing in their lives, but I can have peace that when I actively seek wisdom and prudence, I will have understanding, and hope to rise again.
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