Wisdom and Discretion
Brian D. Dykstra is teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI.
Proverbs 3:21: “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion.”
In this verse, Solomon teaches his son the need for sound wisdom and discretion. Sound wisdom has some substance to it. It is wisdom which is not subject to passing trends and fashion. It is not the wisdom of the job market, the investment market or the business world. It is not the wisdom of the athletic competition or the social mill. Solomon is concerned about something greater than his son’s obtaining and maintaining a place in the world. Wisdom which is based on God’s truth is the only wisdom which will endure and is timeless. The wisdom of God and His Word is spiritual and gives direction to His people in every age. With the wisdom of God’s Word, there is lasting guidance for the soul.
Discretion is the ability to recognize the difference between good and evil. This is a spiritual ability. It is far more important than the ability to tell a good deal from a bad deal or a good labour contract from a bad one. A godly walk of gratitude depends on the ability to recognize good and evil. When God’s people walk with discretion, the wicked will not have an occasion to speak evilly of God or His Christ or His church.
It is this kind of wisdom and discretion which Solomon tells his son, “let not them depart from thine eyes.” Our souls are connected to physical reality through our senses. Our eyes are an important bridge to the world. We have heard of the lust of the eyes. Satan knows what an influence our eyes can have on our souls. The Devil pointed out to Eve that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had a pleasant appearance and looked desirable. Satan knew he was well on his way to achieving his goal when he realized that Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was pleasing to the eye. Jealousy can arise when we see that others have more or better than we have. Our eyes can lead our hearts to covet the possessions of the neighbour.
Solomon tells his son that he must always have sound wisdom and discretion before his eyes. What would happen if the son were to look at the world without the optical filters of wisdom and discretion? The sinful things of the world would have a great appeal for him. Satan has learned what tempts God’s children. It is when we put aside wisdom and discretion that we begin to fall into the ways of sin. If we keep before our eyes God’s standard of right and wrong, and the beauty of His kingdom, the temptations of the world lose their allure. What is the value of the passing passion of the pleasure of sin compared to the lasting value of the beauty of God and a place in His eternal kingdom, through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?
We know of the lives of some who live without sound wisdom and discretion. I did some work last summer in downtown Grand Rapids near the Mel Trotter mission. There one can see displayed on the sidewalks lives ruined and lost to drugs and alcohol. Ragged, rumpled, baggy-eyed individuals have a hand out while the other hand holds a brown paper bag filled with empty promises and the inability to forget one’s woes. Is there much of a difference between the wrinkled, worn brown paper bag and the skin of the man who will try to fill the void in his soul with the contents of the bottle? Families are decayed and family fellowship made bitter because of adultery, abuse and the downward spiral of lives which continue in sin.
Such misery is not limited to the downtrodden or poor. There are prosperous fools who lack sound wisdom and discretion. They live in luxury and ease and have more than heart could wish. Yet, their lives contain nothing of lasting value. How many of the much beloved celebrities whose lives glitter with fame and fortune have checked into substance abuse rehabilitation centres? It’s become fashionable. Is one’s life regarded as being fast enough and hard enough without the required stint or two in rehab? An arrest now and then is also beneficial to maintain a place for one’s name on the supermarket tabloid’s cover. Beauty, social standing, public adulation and limited talent do not fill the soul. The celebrated life in the fast lane is devoid of sound wisdom and discretion.
What about us? Solomon tells us to keep sound wisdom and discretion before our eyes. We do not need to be told to do something which we would do if left to ourselves. Take away the enlivening power of God’s Spirit from our hearts and what would we do? Oh, we might not physically be on the bum’s sidewalk or in the celebrity’s penthouse, but, spiritually, where would we be? Would we be begging for the fruit of the tree of life or would we eagerly be making our selection from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Do we sometimes wish we could participate in the pleasures of sin if only we could get away with it? Doesn’t our flesh view God’s law as a list of prohibitions preventing us from having a good time? We all have our own desire of the flesh which we would satisfy.
Pray that our faithful Father will place His wisdom and discretion in our hearts. May we point His children to Him as the only source of wisdom which will guide us and them along their path.