In our drive-through, minute-to-win-it society, we want things quickly. My observation is that my grandmother was correct, “haste makes waste.” Regardless of how easy or condensed our daily processes become, some are even quicker to find something else about which to complain.
However, there is one book of the Bible which does provide wisdom in quick, bite-sized chunks. It’s potent and pithy. It’s the book of Proverbs. One of the results of studying the book of Proverbs will be the attainment of prudence.
That word conjures images of prim and proper people of olden days. The related words, prude and prudish have even worse connotations. But the dictionary defines prudence as “the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; shrewdness in the management of affairs; good judgment in the use of resources.”
If you are like me, you stand in need of more of this quality. So from the Proverbs of Scripture, let me share 7 life-changing principles of prudence.
1. Prudent people are like cats—they know that some things are best covered up. See Proverbs 12:16. A prudent person knows when to ignore an insult. Matthew Henry said, ‘‘It is kindness to ourselves to make light of injuries and affronts, instead of making the worst of them.’’ Are you too easily offended? Sometimes it’s best to laugh off a criticism. It’s best to have a duck’s back attitude considering the rudeness of some people. Prudent people don’t take themselves too seriously.
2. Prudent people give cautious answers. See Proverbs 12:23. Even Jesus often gave only partial answers. He was demonstrating prudence. You don’t have to tell everything you know. Prudent people often provide the shortest and quietest answers.
3. Prudent people think ahead. See Proverbs 14:8. Do you make on the spot decisions, without thinking about the consequences? Do you make impulsive purchases and suffer financial stress when the bill arrives? Have you ever joined a team or club without considering how much time will be required? One of the earmarks of prudence is to look before you leap.
4. Prudent people have a healthy skepticism. See Proverbs 14:15. Prudent people don’t believe everything they hear. Have you learned through experience to not put much confidence in the promises made during political campaigns? You should practice the same caution when it comes to what you’re being told by the so-called experts of this world.
5. Prudent people handle correction well. See Proverbs 15:5. When was the last time you felt defensive and offended? Perhaps your husband or wife suggested something about your behavior or appearance. Perhaps a co-worker or supervisor offered some unsolicited advice. Wise people listen to criticism, discard what is invalid, and heed what’s left.
6. Prudent people study. See Proverbs 18:15. Prudent people turn off the television and open the bookcase. They attend seminars, take classes and courses, and become personal students of the Scriptures. Prudent people are reading blogs and acquiring fresh insights. They understand that they don’t know it all and that they have not arrived.
7. Prudent people take precautions. See Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12. Prudent people don’t live in fear. But they fasten their seatbelt, establish an emergency fund, plan for retirement, perform maintenance on their homes and cars, and guard against ‘‘the evil day.’’ The prudent person sees trouble coming and plans appropriately.
Since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, I challenge you to give it a month’s effort and become a more prudent person one day at a time.
Ask the Lord to help you develop a lifestyle of prudence. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
What is one of your favorite proverbs?