Savvy and Streetwise

If you want to be savvy and streetwise, read the book of Proverbs. It’s a jewelry box filled with nuggets of spiritual gold. It’s a toolbox full of blue-collar common sense—hardworking truths that wound us and heal us, break us and mend our broken places. It’s a handbook of godly wisdom about real-life issues like anger, marriage, money, and sexuality. It’s a manual for parenting children, managing businesses, making friends, and leading teams.

The book of Proverbs doesn’t tell a story, but it helps us separate truth from falsehood in the other stories we hear. It presents a practical, no-nonsense approach to serving God. Do an honest day’s work. Don’t be lazy. Control your temper. Be faithful to your spouse. Don’t eat or drink too much. Cultivate healthy friendships. Spend, save, and give money prudently. Control your tongue. Replace destructive habits with constructive ones.

Do you ever feel frustrated because the book of Proverbs isn’t topically arranged? You wonder, Where is that verse about gossip? Then after a bit of research you discover not one but several verses about the tongue scattered randomly throughout the book. I don’t mean to second-guess the Lord, but why didn’t he put all the subjects in topical order for easy reference instead of scattering them randomly throughout the book?

On the other hand, daily life contains a lot of randomness too. I need wisdom not only when everything goes according to plan, but when my best-laid plans fall apart. I need wisdom to handle unexpected interruptions, unplanned encounters with neighbors, disturbing news, and alluring temptations that come out of the blue. Life doesn’t happen in an orderly sequence of events moving smoothly from one subject to the next.

Viewed that way, the book of Proverbs makes perfect sense—even the way it’s arranged. We don’t need an easy-to-read reference with alphabetical tabs. We need godly discernment to navigate the jumbled-up give-and-take of daily life. Worldly wisdom (street smarts) and academic training (book smarts) only take us so far. It’s good to hear the voice of reason, but do we hear the voice of God? Life on the ground requires wisdom from above.

Want to wise up? Here are three suggestions.

Get serious about it. Make the pursuit of godly wisdom a conscious goal. Pray for discernment. Watch and listen carefully to others wiser than yourself.

Get active with it. Wisdom is a call to action. Scripture equips us “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). The Bible isn’t just a source of quips and quotes; it’s equipment for life. According to Jesus, the wise builder (who constructs his house on a bedrock foundation) is the one who hears his words “and puts them into practice” (Matthew 7:24).

Go public with it. Wisdom doesn’t huddle in a church building. Its voice can be heard “out in the open . . . in the public square . . . on top of the wall . . . at the city gate” (Proverbs 1:20-21). True wisdom doesn’t dodge real-world problems; it engages them.

Let’s all be philosophers (lovers of wisdom). After all, “Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).

David Faust

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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