Proverbs 1:1-4: The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth--
God’s Word is so amazing. It gives us wisdom and discipline. It helps us to understand the ways of God. It gives us instruction on dealing properly with people.
To sum it up, Proverbs 1:4 uses a word we don't use much anymore: Prudence.
What is Prudence?
Prudence is doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right purpose.
First, it’s doing the right thing. We all have choices every day. Prudence says I am going to, by the grace of God, choose to do the right thing. I am not going to entertain sinful, or even unprofitable, ideas. I am not going to hope I make a good decision. I am making it now. I am making a choice ahead of time. I am going to do the right thing.
But it is also doing the right thing in the right way. You know you can do the right thing but in the wrong way, right? Showing your boss that you are concerned for her is a right thing. Showing it by taking her on a date, wrong way. It’s using discretion: I know what I need to do, what is the wisest way to go about it?
Prudence is even more thorough. It is doing the right thing in the right way at the right time. It has taken me a while to learn this (almost 37 years): but timing is everything. When I have to have a hard conversation, I try to do it ASAP. Not always a good plan. I am not discounting urgency, but I have learned that sometimes it is wiser to wait until a better time to say something hard.
And finally, prudence means doing the right thing in the right way at the right time for the right purpose. What is my purpose? Proverbs 20:5 reminds us a motivation check is always in order. Why am I doing this? To exalt myself? To prove am I right? To put this person in his place? To appear more spiritual than I am? Is this really for the Lord?
In other words, in every choice you have to make, examine:
WHAT is the right thing?
HOW should I go about doing the right thing?
WHEN should I get on this?
WHY am I doing this?
p.s. - this is the proverbial truth. literally