Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.”
Being prudent has typically been illustrated as one making wise decisions under existing circumstances. Some have likened prudence to when a child gets in trouble, not sassing back during a reprimand would be a prudent position to take. Others might recognize someone who handles difficult matters with good and careful judgement as one who likewise showed good prudence.
Solomon reflected on what a prudent man looks like in regards to spiritual matters….
*He foresees trouble as it approaches.
Whether it’s the reprimanded child or a project manager who makes many decisions, the need to recognize approaching trouble is a key component to acting wisely.
There are times when the need to know trouble is coming can only be revealed by someone else. Warnings are abundant and the ability to perceive them or even receive them can alleviate the pain and suffering associated with being short sighted. If a person is so caught up in their circumstances, the proximity to the dilemma causes a lack of foresight.
Proverbs 15:5 “A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent.”
Understanding that someone might have more insight than you is a wise approach to growing in understanding. If you are being corrected, recognizing you made a poor decision and then growing through those mistakes brings sound judgement later on.
*Surround yourself with the wise.
Proverbs 13:20 “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
Watching the wise in their ways is a good method for growing yourself. As a young man and even today I look for men who are grounded in wisdom. Bouncing thoughts off them, watching how they live, and how they react to trouble are lessons I use for growth in myself. My father-in-law was a man I used to spend a lot of time watching. He was highly esteemed for his godly character and the ways he modeled his faith. His examples were one way I learned godliness as a young married man. My father is likewise a man of faith and his wisdom and temperance were qualities I sought to grow by also.
If we want to have the vision necessary to recognize evil when it appears, we have to have the tools that are useful for seeing clearly.
If you lack the tools necessary for wise living, they can still be learned. You don’t learn from a novice, you learn from the experienced. Those who have gone before us, who have already learned from their mistakes can give us insight into the wisdom they have gleaned through the years.
Tools of the Prudent
Proverbs 8:12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And find out knowledge and discretion.”
What do the wise discover by walking the path of prudence?
Wisdom is a divine attribute that is acquired by those who seek it. The giver is God so the search must start there. Recognizing the Lord as Sovereign is where it begins. Fearing God is more than just respecting His position but is also recognizing His Righteousness. He is Holy, we must understand what that looks like in us if we are to expect wisdom to be made known.
Knowledge is much more than being book smart. True knowledge is found in knowing God—walking with Him, dwelling in the Spirit, and staying obedient to His leading. He leads us to instruct us. If we submit to His teaching, we will grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
Discretion is the ability to know how to act correctly in a given situation. The knowledge of the Holy is what allows you to separate good from what is evil, what is of God and what is not. If I am faced with a decision, knowledge of God’s Word and acting with good discretion allows me to be prudent in how I move forward.
To quote C.S. Lewis again…“Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it”
What is Reasonable
Governing by the use of reason can only go so far. Reason can be very useful when you are taking a systematic approach to difficulty and applying logic to each step. Roadblocks occur when our approach is limited by our sense of reason—in other words, we can only go as far as our knowledge allows us to, once we reach this limit our decisions have to be based off something else—such as worldly advice or some false teaching.
Don’t get me wrong, goals are useful when we know what the object is we are trying to achieve, especially when it is God ordained and not just based on our desire for happiness. It is when we take our eyes off of the Lord that we become consumed with our own comfort and we drive toward an end that ultimately will not lead to fulfillment.
Being reasonable is relative to what we value.
If my goal is to glorify the Lord, the process I use will look much different than if my goal is to please myself. If every small decision I make is held in light of my desire to honor Jesus, then it is in these little moments where the battle is won or lost. A man who claims to be a believer is not acting reasonably if his ambition is for selfish gain. A woman who desires to please God in all she does acts prudently when she makes decisions that reflect God’s heart.
**It is at the level of the heart where we will ultimately be judged.
Proverbs 21:6 “A man who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead.”
Why is godly prudence so important?—It shows that you are seeking after those things that are not corruptible. The blessings of God come to those who seek Him. The way of the dead is the pathway apart from God’s Word. Let Him instruct you in your ways and you will find yourself traveling toward an end that is good.
The way we receive blessing looks a lot different when our goals and ambitions align with God’s perfect will and God’s will is reflected by His Word….one way we carry out that Word is through Prudence.