We classify people in different ways – by race, the language they speak, economic class, age, geography, educational level, even personality type. God classifies people in the book of Proverbs as mockers, fools, or the wise.
Where might you be on the Wise/Foolish spectrum today?
Mockers (or scoffers) are referred to 17x in Proverbs. They are extremely proud, shameless, and foolish. These are abusers and dictators who throw people away (e.g. Hitler/Stalins). Proverbs acknowledges there are those few “evil” people that, while not beyond redemption, are particularly unteachable. They are the extreme end of the foolish spectrum.
Fools (or the simple) are mentioned 65x. This is the great mass of people. These are the naïve, the easily influenced, the impulsive, and the impatient. Fools wander into messes without thinking because they prefer to not do the hard work of thinking things through or asking hard questions.
The wise (or prudent) is God’s goal for every follower of Jesus and the point of Proverbs. One of the goals of discipleship is to move us from the category of fools to the wise. While wisdom is a larger category than prudence, wisdom dwells with prudence in particular (Proverbs 8:12).
The prudent think ahead, patiently giving careful thought to the long-term implications of their decisions. This applies to finances, relationships, decision- making, speech, the getting of wise counsel, etc. It has implications for every area of life and leadership.
Consider the following:
- The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways. 14:8
- Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. 14:15
- It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, not to be hasty and miss the way. 19:2
- A person’s wisdom gives them patience. 19:11
- The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. 22:3
In what area of your life might God be inviting you to slow down and ask Him for prudence today?
I preached on this last Sunday at New Life in a sermon entitled The Wisdom of Prudence. Click below to watch the video or on the link to listen to the audio.