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Wise Words for Life (Proverbs 4:1-27)

Sermon on 18 October 2020 by Ps Paul

Introduction

Proverbs was written mainly by King Solomon. He asked God for wisdom after he took over His father, David, as king, so that he could govern the people. As such, Proverbs records teachings about wisdom from above.

Message

My children, listen when you father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions. For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s only child. My father taught me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honour you. She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.” My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life. Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers. Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving. For evil people can’t sleep until they’ve done their evil deed for the day. They can’t rest until they’ve caused someone to stumble. They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence! The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get side-tracked; keep your feet from following evil. - Proverbs 4:1-27

Proverbs chapter 4 started telling us children to listen to the Father. We are all children of God.

1. Listen to God’s words with a humble and teachable heart, and obey them. – verses 1,2,4,10,20,21

The word “listen” was mentioned in verses 1, 10 and 20. It is important to listen to God’s words. We cannot listen if our hearts are hardened and proud. Our hearts need to be humble and teachable so that we can receive His words. Because of our pride, we may find it hard to listen to God, and even expect God to answer our prayers. Let us examine our hearts all the time and ask God for His grace for us to repent. Remember, the Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years because of their pride.

When we listen to God, His promises will follow. God’s words lead us to eternal life. We will live (v4). We will have a long, good life (v10). We will find life (v22) and healing to the whole body (v22).

2. Seek and obtain wisdom, and develop good judgment. – verses 5-13

God granted Solomon his request for wisdom as he wanted to lead the people properly. His request was right in God’s sight, because Solomon was not asking God to make him rich, powerful or strong.

Why is wisdom important? Wisdom will protect and guard us (v6). Wisdom will make us great and honourable (v8). We won’t be held back and we won’t stumble (v12) when we have wisdom.

Where can we find wisdom? In the bible, which contains the wisdom of the most high. There is also the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to lead us.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever! - Psalm 111:10

3. Stay away from wickedness and evil. – v14-17, 24, 27

In verses 14-15, we are told not to even think about wickedness and not to do evil. Verse 24 tells us to stay away from gossip and lying, which causes destruction instead of building one another up.

James chapter 3 tells us to control our tongue, which is a flame of fire, otherwise it can corrupt the whole body. If our heart is set right, our tongue can be controlled.

Proverbs 4:19 tells us that the way of the wicked is like total darkness. The end is destruction.

4. Guard our heart above all else. – v23

It is important to examine our hearts all the time to see whether our heart is for God, as it determines where we go.

What does it mean to guard our heart? It means to protect it from any evil desire or ambition.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. – Matthew 6:19-21

Let us guard our hearts by keeping God’s word within our hearts (Psalm 119:11).

5. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. – v25

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Look unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. He has shown us how to live an upright life, one that is pleasing to God. He will mark out a straight path for our feet. We will not get side-tracked.

Closing

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honourable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:13-18

May God’s wise words of wisdom and His peace be with all of us.

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