Manna 24

The Practice of a Proverb a Day

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There are many ways that the world we live in today is better than living in the past. Just the medical knowledge alone has vastly extended the human life span. Much of the medical knowledge and practices of the past actually did more harm than good, like the practice of bloodletting[1]. Sanitation practices have dramatically improved leading to better health; in earlier centuries, mothers in the city of London would give their children beer to drink instead of water the water was so polluted, but one of the negative consequences was alcoholism in children as young as 6 or 7 years old[2]. Building construction, weather patterns, ecosystems, psychological illnesses and many other areas have made modern life a better quality of life than in the centuries past.

But that does not mean the past does not still have things to teach us; we should not become too impressed with our own world we have created. The ancients still speak to us and many lessons learned in the past need to be relearned in the present. People are people are people; the human being is pretty much the same. We have the same appetites, we have the same aspirations, and we have the same weaknesses. For example, the four temperament types described by the Greek physician Hippocrates are still considered basically sound today and the foundation for more complex descriptions like Meyers-Briggs and DISC. People are still people focus or task focused, outgoing or reserved. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants their lives to matter. Everyone wants their children to succeed and have a happy life. People are still people.

That is why a wisdom book like the Old Testament book of Proverbs is still relevant today. Proverbs are observations made about the human condition and what can make a human existence better and what can harm[3]. It is important to know that proverbs are NOT promises. They are observations about how life normally goes, but there will be exceptions to the proverb, because there always are. We get into trouble when we think that we are ALWAYS the exception. Being the norm is…well, normal; being the exception is rare.

The book of Proverbs’ target audience is specifically young men, but all of us regardless of age or gender can gain wisdom by listening in on the conversations. It was my own father that recommended me to begin reading Proverbs as a young teenager. I did read it quite regularly from then all the way through college and still visit Proverbs on a regular bases because I always find myself and my human condition addressed. You are never to old to learn and/or be reminded of some wisdom.

What I want to do with the rest of this article is give advice on how to glean wisdom from the book of Proverbs to practically make your life better.

Knowing WHAT to read is actually very simple. Whatever the date is, that is the chapter you read that day. For example, the day I am writing this article is March 10th, so today I would read chapter 10. There are 30 chapters in Proverbs, and the average days per month is just a little over 30 days so this gives you an easy way to know what to read. You don’t try and make up for missed days, just stick with the chapter for that date.

While you are reading that chapter – slowly – you are looking for that one proverb that address a current issue in your life or address an area of character or behavior you need deal with. For example, maybe Proverbs 10:19 might point out a behavior you need to work on:

When words are many, sin is not absent,

but he who holds his tongue is wise.

This might address the struggle you have of blurting things out or needing to be heard to prove your worth, etc. There are many reasons people over-talk, but this proverbs makes it very clear that “less is more” and you will lead a wiser life if you are more careful with your speech.

If that is the one proverb from chapter 10 that is wisdom you need to put into practice, pull out a 3×5 card and write that proverb on the card. I know some will want to make a note on their smartphone or tablet, and that is fine too. But the goal is that you pull it out several times that day and read it. You need to be wise enough to know whether a hand written 3×5 is best for you or if a gadget of some kind is. Get a journal and at the end of the day write that proverb down in it and before you put your head on the pillow and close your eyes, review just the proverbs you chose for that month to reinforce them just before you go to sleep.

This is a very simple way to grow spiritually, relationally and emotionally because the same categories of life we struggle with, they struggled with too. Obnoxious neighbors, trouble at work, not knowing whether to act or not to act; they are so much like us because we share the same human body and spirit.

I pray that this very simple habit will make you a wiser, mature and godly person that will lead to a better world for all of us.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Bloodletting is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease.

[2] I learned this from the book London: A Biography by Peter Ackroyd but currently do not have it with me, so I sadly cannot give you a page number to reference.

[3] A more grammatically precise definition would be: A proverb, then, is a statement that makes a comparison or summarizes a common experience (i.e., the sentence is “like” or is compared to reality).

J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 903). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

하나님이 세상을 이처럼 사랑하사 독생자를 주셨으니 이는 저를 믿는 자마다 멸망치 않고 영생을 얻게 하려 하심이니라 (요 3:16).
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

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