Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Sexy Wisdom
Preacher: Mark Johnson
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 5:1-23 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it” (Proverbs 5:6).
Full disclosure—I’m getting really tired of finding out about all the things I’m supposed to avoid as I read through the book of Proverbs. I’m much more a person who likes to dwell on the infinite possibilities of the things I’m allowed to do! Why dwell on the negative when there’s so much positive to focus on?
In any case, today we are reminded not to go after a certain kind of woman because her “paths wander aimlessly” and she doesn’t even know it.
I was in Mexico on the Baja California Peninsula with a large group of young people on a short-term mission trip. We were working with a group that had homes for orphans just about 20 minutes out of Ensenada. In maybe the hardest physical labor I’ve ever done, we used pickaxes and shovels to dig trenches on either side of the long dirt driveway that led up to the homes. The rains were ruining the driveways and the only way to save them was to give the rain a place to gather and flow that wouldn’t erode the driving paths even further.
This was hard grueling work that caused much grumpiness in the ranks of the young volunteers. I was cracking the whip, making sure that all hands were on deck, and that everyone was working together to fulfill our tasks.
As long as everyone was suffering, we were all having a good time. And then, I noticed her. I’ll call her Alice. As we all worked in the hot sun, I noticed that Alice was standing out in a field of wildflowers chasing butterflies and decidedly not working. I heard the kids grumbling, so I dropped my pickaxe and approached her.
“Alice, is there a reason you aren’t working with the rest of us?”
It was like I woke her from a dream. She looked up and said, “Oh, am I supposed to be doing something?”
I guided her to a pair of gloves and a shovel and gave her a section of dirt. It wasn’t even 20 minutes later that I looked up and say Alice flitting around and chasing butterflies again. Again, I approached her.
“Alice, why aren’t you working?”
With a clueless look on her face, she said, “Oh, am I supposed to be doing something?” She wasn’t playing me. She wasn’t being obstinate. She was truly clueless about life. She walked around having not a clue as to where she was supposed to be or what she was supposed to be doing. As far as I know, now in her late twenties, she is still wandering around in life, chasing butterflies.
Maybe for Alice this isn’t a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when people who wander after the wrong things entice others to follow their ways.
As a teenager, I introduced friends into life decisions that they were never able to shake. The paths they were led toward gobbled them up. I still regret my early life decisions, especially because they led others into a murky existence.
The Wisdom writer is warning here against being trapped by an adulterous woman. My life experience tells me that there are a lot of people and things in life that want to steal our crowns. It’s best to avoid all of them.
Recalibrate: How have you influenced others toward the bad? How have you influenced others for the good?
Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, use me as an influence for good!”
Research: Read The Power of Influence by Alex Lickerman, M.D.
Remember: “For human ways are under the eyes of the Lord and He examines all their paths” (Proverbs 5:21, NRSV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
The best adventure is the one we are on today. Plan with your little ones what needs to be done today. How can we help each other do both the fun things and the not-so-fun things? Discipline is best learnt together. Being able to stay on task has never been one of my strengths; however, I have family and friends who help me focus and channel my energies to finish. Our best friend Jesus promises to be with us—listen and look for His lead and follow it!
Have you ever said something and knew right away you shouldn’t have? Maybe you knew that what you said was mean or hurtful immediately—or maybe it took a little bit of time for you to realize—and by the end of the day, you knew you shouldn’t have let those words come out of your mouth. Proverbs 5:2 says, “Be careful to use good sense. Watch what you say.” Are there any words or phrases you use that maybe your family or some of your best friends say too? Just like friends share funny moments and laughter, we also share our words. Think of some of the words you and your friends all say that not not everyone else says. It’s important to use good sense and make sure we are speaking good and kind words so the words we share help others.
Up until this point, Solomon has done all that he can to convince his kid that wisdom is something we have to locate in order to possess it. But in Chapter 5, he changes up his plan and begins to believe that his child has the wisdom now and, in turn, must do all that he can to protect it once it’s in him. The plot twist is that even when you have wisdom, it still isn’t for you to share without discretion. Wisdom is really as valuable as gold and diamonds because much like expensive possessions, you don’t want to go around walking in the wrong neighborhood flaunting your jewelry or else someone will help you take them off and keep them!
In Chapter 5, from the jump, Solomon uses the term “guard” when describing the proper way to keep that knowledge you learned from your experience from being taken from you. Which raises this question: if knowledge is supposed to be guarded, can you lose wisdom after you’ve found it? Is wisdom not permanent after you worked so hard to get it?
Solomon seems to think it’s not. And his belief becomes your warning this morning. Wisdom is not merely something you keep forever. Even when it’s etched on your heart and worn around your neck. Just like the examples above, it can be stolen if you’re reckless with how you use it. So be warned . . .
How might you go about making sure you’re guarding your knowledge with your lips and keep discerning discretion today?
Have you ever felt like you are just wandering through life? You go to school, go to work, maybe see a few friends, go to church, and go to sleep. The hardest part is sleep—or bedtime. That’s when we actually realize we are just wandering through life. We think about the anxieties and troubles of the day and we realize we actually don’t have it all figured out. But what if I told you that this is the best conclusion you can come to in life? “I don’t have it all figured out!” Those are the words of someone ready to accept the guidance and call of Jesus. It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that Jesus can do anything with us. What separates those who wander from those who are lost is the ability to let Jesus be in control. It’s OK that you don’t have it all figured out. Now that you have admitted this, turn to Jesus and ask Him what He needs to do in your life.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.