Friday, July 23, 2021

Proverbs 4 - Get Wisdom

 Read Proverbs 4

Two years of counseling inmate addicts brought me through this conversation on multiple occasions.

What are you going to do when you get out?

I’m not going to hang around old friends that will cause me to use drugs again.

That’s a great textbook answer, but please answer my question. What are you going to do when you get out?

I’m not going back to the old hood.  There’s trouble waiting for me there.

That’s all true.  Now answer the question that I put to you. What are you going to do when you get out?

I am not going to complain about how unfair the world is.

That should help, but what are you going to do when you get out?

My inmate clients had frustrated and perplexed looks by this point but did not comprehend my question. What are you going to do when you get out?

The reformatory system taught what not to do.  It pointed out land mines.  It posted warning signs.  It gave out laundry lists of things that might trip you up, but it was not equipped to give an inmate purpose.

What does purpose have to do with anything about the Proverbs? Is there a connection between wisdom and purpose?

From PoMo Poverty by Tom Spence

The Germans have a unique word:  Gestalt

It is a word that is used to say the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

It describes an integral relationship among all elements.

It’s more than integrity.

It is integrity plus synergy with a fully intertwined taxonomy.

OK, let’s just go with the whole is more than the sum of the parts.


How can something be more than the sum of its component parts?

In the world of life experience, purpose is often the cohesive, the organizing principle, and the multiplier.


A life expended with purpose is a life lived to its potential, what might seem beyond its potential.

Purpose gets you out of bed in the morning.

Purpose causes you to say, Good Morning, Lord, instead of Good Lord, it’s morning.

Purpose gets you to school

Purpose gets you to work.

Purpose gets you talking with God.

Purpose gets you up the hill.

Purpose lets the insult roll off while focus is maintained.

Purpose adjusts the sails when the wind changes.

Purpose cooks Ramen when the paycheck isn’t enough for the water bill.

Purpose crosses the minefield to save a friend.

Purpose gives insight into our Heavenly Father.

Purpose gives us insight into ourselves.

Purpose unlocks our gifts and talents.

Purpose gives us permission to say no to things we don’t need to do.

Purpose brings us to abundance—not in stuff or money—but in life.

Purpose purges poverty.


Those who live without purpose endure a cruel type of poverty.

This form of poverty just passes the time.

This form of poverty sees only immediate needs.

Character atrophies in those living in the poverty of purpose.

Commitment is foreign to anyone without purpose.

The power to effect desired change is irrelevant if there is no desire.

Fear rules.

Language sours.

Money is elusive.

There is no Sabbath to take in a life without purpose.


People without purpose are often deluded into thinking they have purpose or a plan or at least a general approach to life.  What we most often find is that they have an exact set of circumstances that they are looking for before they will pursue anything.

What circumstances?

Something that pays a lot, requires little, and doesn’t require any commitment.


People without purpose are often deluded into thinking that they can do anything that comes along.  Sure, they can be a manager, or salesperson, or inventory specialist.  They won’t show up to apply because that would shatter the delusion. 


People without purpose gravitate to infomercials.  Something priced at $29.95 in which you get 2, not 1, of the save-your-life item offers allure.  When you have no purpose, anything that glitters must be gold.

People with purpose enjoy a good conversation but can’t pause for long.

People without purpose love to talk all day but are terrible conversationalists.

People with purpose love to engage others who will challenge their thinking.

People without purpose avoid thinking.

People without purpose avoid life.

People without purpose feel cheated out of something.

They have cheated themselves out of life.

People of purpose arrive at the job site thinking, what can I accomplish?

People without purpose arrive reluctantly at their job wondering when the day will end.

People of purpose are amazed at how fast the day passes.

People without purpose are tortured by the never-ending day.


People with purpose seize the day.

People living in the poverty of purpose dread the day.


It is a pitiful sight to see a human void of purpose.

There is no life in the eyes.

There is no spring in the step.

There is no confidence in the voice.

There is no firmness in the handshake.

There is no place to go to find peace.

There is no hope to carry this miserable person to a better place.


What a burden to carry—to exist without reason.

What a burden to believe that you have no purpose.


What a burden to be blind to the truth.

God made us all with purpose.

Living without purpose is not natural.

Living without purpose is to reject God.


Purpose is part of life.

Purpose is integral to abundant life.

Purpose pervades life and gives no purchase to poverty.


Yet I deal with people every week who make life decisions in an instant, and postpone simple decisions for months or years.

I meet with people that come seeking money to pay a bill with no idea of what they will do to pay the bill next month, much less what they want to do with their lives.

My skin crawls when people come to me and say, well I guess we’ll get married.  It was as if they were choosing between Ziploc bag sizes.  Yeah, OK, that one will work.

I have mixed thoughts when some people without purpose come and tell me that they are leaving town.  Something happened at the school.  We can’t stay here.  No teacher is going to correct my child.

I get blank stares when I ask, why is your child in school?

People literally cannot answer this question.  Maybe if they said: so she can get an education, or so he can learn something, or something along the lines of so they can better themselves; then an honest discussion might be possible.

Maybe when people can see that life is greater than the sum of everything that’s happened to them, a true conversation is possible.

But when there is no purpose—or the parents do not comprehend the purpose and just go along with the crowd—discussions about staying the course, learning discipline, and reinforcing the rules set by the teacher are bad subtitles on a foreign film.

I said that I had mixed thoughts about people without purpose leaving town.  Among the other thoughts are which of my contemporaries should I warn as the people void of purpose head their way.


Purpose is part of life.

Purpose is integral to abundant life.

Purpose pervades life and gives no purchase to poverty.

And yet so many will have nothing to do with purpose in their lives.


A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.

 William Shedd


Why is Tom talking purpose?  I thought we were in the Proverbs.  I thought we were talking wisdom.

So, I will ask you, what are you going to do with your life?

Wisdom tells us to receive the godly counsel of our parents and of God’s word.

Wisdom tells us not only that there is God’s way and there is everything else but it tells us to stay on the path that God has set for us.

Get wisdom.  Seek instruction. Stay the course.

Those committed to wickedness will not be persuaded by the new you.  You should not expect their support.  Stay the course of wisdom. Proclaim the good news but stay the course.  Press on towards the goal.

Guard your heart!

Don’t let wickedness gain a foothold in your heart or your mind.  Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ Jesus.

So what are you going to do with your life?

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

I will walk in the light as he is in the light.

I will be known as a follower of Christ Jesus by my love.

I will take the words of my Master and put them into practice.

I will live as if tomorrow is not promised but eternity is.  My choices matter and I chose to seek the Lord in all that I do.

That means that I will have an intimate relationship with this lady named wisdom.  I will embrace her. I will take her counsel so I stay on the right path and am protected from those who would pull me from it.

I will live my life so that my choices bring glory to God.  God has equipped me with wisdom if I will just receive it and he has placed his own Holy Spirit within me if I will just listen to and obey his Spirit.

I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and not swerve to the right or the left.

What am I going to do with my life?

I am going to live like never before, seeking God and seeking to bring glory to God in all that I do and knowing that wisdom has offered to equip me for this task.

There is God’s way and there is everything else and I chose to live God’s way.


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