Are We Any Wiser? So Far in Proverbs

Encouragement for Your Heart and Mind from Pastor David Staff

One of the great challenges with Sunday mornings is what I would call the “shelf life” of sermons.

What do I mean?

I mean that most sermons tend to “go in one ear and out the other.”  Communications studies have demonstrated that we retain 5% of what we hear, 40-50% of what we hear and see, and 80%+ of what we hear, see, and do.  As most church attenders only “hear” the sermon, 95% of it vanishes into thin air.

Perhaps you learned about the “shelf life” of certain commodities or materials in a Middle School science class.  Shelf-life is defined as the period of time during which a material may be stored and remain suitable for use.  More broadly: the period of time during which something lasts or remains popular.  For example, buy a half-gallon of milk, and the “shelf life” printed in and around the carton’s cap indicates that you can drink the milk unspoiled for about two weeks.

Unfortunately, the shelf-life of a sermon merely listened to may be less than 24 hours.

THE SHELF LIFE OF PROVERBS – can be extended by the wise!

For the past 8 weeks, we’ve been drinking in God’s wisdom from Proverbs.  Our contention is that God has provides this Old Testament revelation to give us a compass for living.  Hearing, visually seeing, and living specific proverbs can keep us pointed in the direction that pleases God and betters us.

So, are we wiser today after 8 weeks of engaging with this Biblical compass?  Can you identify a specific wisdom truth that is changing your life?  We can extend the shelf-life impact of God’s proverbial revelation by both revisiting and intentionally applying what we’ve discovered.
Here are some of the key “compass” truths encountered over the past 2 months:
  • God has breathed-out these timeless proverbs, inviting us onto a “path of right progress” (Prov. 1:1-7), a path which begins with a choice to fear the Lord.
  • A righteous person lives the wisdom of the proverbs, enjoying the favor and joy of the Lord God himself (Proverb 15:8-9).  He/she finds true blessing and real goodness in life.
  • Conversely, a fool refuses to be instructed, choosing rather to be naïve, willful, or scoffing at God’s wisdom, ruining his/her life and future (Proverbs 1:7, 10:8, 12:15).
  • There is deep wisdom in trusting what God has said, and acknowledging God in all that is done (Proverbs 3:5-8).  Straight paths from the hand of God are the reward.
  • There is both life-giving power or life-destroying power in the use of the tongue (Proverbs 10:19).  Effective remembering of this calls for surrendering the tongue’s use to our Father (and His Spirit within), and readily confessing when misuse occurs.
  • Few things are as life-shaping as companions and friends (Proverbs 13:20).  Choose well and walk wisely.
  • Families which thrive in the midst of cultural storms are Jesus-centered, God-fearing, and in the habit of thinking and acting wisely together (Proverbs 23:24-26).
  • Wise use of anger mirrors our God’s expression of anger, an emotion-of-energy channeled well in holy and godly ways (Proverbs 16:32).


I cast an eye at a newspaper cartoon almost every day entitled “Pepper And Salt.”  Most days, it makes an important point, humorously.  Recently, it pictured a man was seated in a swivel chair.  To the left, another was twirling the chair wildly, causing the seated man to whirl around.  Another (to the right) gleefully said, “Spin him another 30 seconds…he may be ready to see things our way!”

It struck me that this is what God’s enemy seeks to do with people, even Christians.  Spin someone around mercilessly until he/she has no idea how to look at things, or finding truth north.

When read and meditated on, the truths in Proverbs stops the spin.  “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied” (19:23).

We’ll see in in our gathered worship this Sunday.  Come prepared to give long life to the life-giving Word.
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