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  • Writer's pictureJack Selcher

Proverbs and Godly Living Skills--Part Eight


Peter showing a lack of self-control by chopping off a man's ear

People demonstrate biblical wisdom by the quality of their advice and lives. Proverbs and Godly Living Skills--Part Eight describes three characteristics of wise people. They are self-controlled, they think before they act, and they do what is best for the long road.


They Are Self-Controlled


On October 3, 2023, the United States House of Representatives lost its leader, the Speaker of the House. He didn’t die. His fellow congressmen voted him out of office for the first time in American history.


The House of Representatives is part of a self-control mechanism of the American government. On that day it was officially “Out of Order” and became even more chaotic than usual.


Wise people exercise self-control (Proverbs 25:28). It isn’t easy. Within them lives a constellation of chaotic passions, emotions, and self-harming inclinations such as anger, wrath, and jealousy (Proverbs 27:4).


Given the chance, these chaotic forces would vote to remove all restraints. Only self-control keeps them at bay (Proverbs 25:16).


Self-control has many aspects. Wise people aren’t hot-tempered (Proverbs 15:18, 19:19). They control their temper and overlook wrongs (Proverbs 19:11). They quietly restrain their anger (Proverbs 29:11) and don’t rouse the king’s anger either (Proverbs 20:2).


Alcohol doesn’t lead wise people astray (Proverbs 20:1). They don’t crave it and avoid drinking too much wine (Proverbs 23:29–35, 31:4).


They don’t love pleasure, wine, or luxury (Proverbs 21:17). They don’t carouse with drunkards, feast with gluttons, or sleep too much (Proverbs 20:13, 23:20–21).


They don’t make rash promises to God (Proverbs 20:25). Their patience and soft speech are persuasive and powerful (25:15). They watch their tongues and keep their mouths shut when such is appropriate (Proverbs 21:23).


Jesus exercised self-control. It enabled Him to say no to the temptations to live independently of His heavenly Father and to remain sinless (Hebrews 4:15). It enabled Him to say yes to everything the Father gave Him to do (John 6:38).


They Think Before They Act


Wise people listen to the facts and think carefully before speaking or acting (Proverbs 13:16, 15:28, 18:13, 21:29, 29:20). They consult many advisors (Proverbs 15:22).


They are cautious. They don’t quickly share their opinion. Their advice is more likely to be the last word rather than the first word about a matter.


“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires” (James 1:19–20 NLT). James tells us to listen first and to check the impulse to rush to say something, perhaps motivated by anger.


An arresting party was coming to get Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter didn’t think before acting.  “And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this.’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him” (Luke 22:50–51).  


To defend Jesus, Peter thoughtlessly reacted against a foe with far superior fighting power. To spare His disciples, Jesus quickly halted resistance to His arrest. He thereby conserved the fruit of three and a half years of developing these men to make disciples of all nations.


Wise people weigh all the evidence before deciding (Proverbs 20:8). They aren’t hasty and don’t substitute enthusiasm for knowledge (Proverbs 19:2).


At times I’ve been so enthusiastic about some initiative that I didn’t think through the best plan to accomplish it. It often failed to gain support because it was half-baked when I shared it with others.


Wise people foresee and take precautions to avoid danger (Proverbs 14:16, 27:12). Lately, I ask myself, “What’s wrong with what I am doing and/or my plan to do it?” I evaluate almost everything now. That approach both catches and prevents a host of mistakes and makes some ideas better.


They Do What Is Best for the Long Road


In 2007 I wrote “Becoming an Enthusiastic Church.” It describes practical steps for churches to create more effective ministries. I simplified Natural Church Development and made it more understandable and applicable to people in my denomination.


While studying, I discovered Christoph Schalk’s principle of doing today what is best for the long road. It revolutionized my thinking. Adopting and applying it significantly improved my decision-making.


Wise people focus on doing what is wise (Proverbs 17:24), and that includes what is best for the long road. Doing what is best is rarely what is easiest (Proverbs 14:4). #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources 


See free spiritual growth resources for Christians at https://www.christiangrowthresources.com


God has empowered me to write “His Power for Your Weakness—260 Steps Toward Spiritual Strength.” It’s a free devotional discipleship resource. Pastors have used it in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia to lead people to Christ and teach the basics of Christianity to 2,554 people. I invite you to check it out. https://www.christiangrowthresources.com/his-power-for-your-weakness


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