We have all heard the screaming: “Safety first” and “the Economy first”. The idea being that everything else pales next to the importance of the economy or safety currently dominates the airwaves and watercooler discussions. While I would not declare that the economy or safety is unimportant, I would contend that neither is the main thing. Rather, both are symptoms or by-products of the real problem which is lack of character and integrity. This lack is not only in the elected officials but also in the electorate. It seems to me that we have come to expect far, far too little from ourselves and from our public servants. Character and integrity in those doing the electing and those getting elected would solve most of our problems. Character and integrity are not inherent in us. These two qualities do not automatically produce themselves in us or others. Teaching, training, and modeling are required. The church has failed miserably in this regard. For the most part, we have not trained; furthermore, we have not held ourselves or others accountable. God has given us a ready-made curriculum, a perfect training manual.
The book of Proverbs is the perfect textbook for training young people (and old people!). It is written from the perspective of training young men but the principles certainly apply to females as well. It is clear that Proverbs was primarily aimed at preparing young men for positions of leadership. The principles taught in Proverbs are perfectly suited to develop excellent leaders for any group be it business, church, governing body, civic organization, hobby club, etc. Having character and integrity built into the DNA of leaders is the best way of ensuring success as well as unity and harmony in these groups. The book begins by pointing out that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7, NASU) A healthy fear, awe, and reverence of the Creator is not the end but rather the beginning of knowledge. Certainly we ought to remember that the Creator has the responsibility of holding us accountable for our behavior, thus we ought to be fearful of being punished for our sins. However, it seems to me that there is another “fear of the Lord” that will guide us into wisdom. For those who know God as Savior and Redeemer we ought to be fearful of causing pain to God because of our rebellion and disobedience. These two complementary fears are a good start toward moving us to wisdom.
Once we recognize our dependence on and responsibility to the Lord, we can be taught some moral guiding principles that will benefit us and others in every area of life.
Proverbs quickly points out that wise men accept instruction while fools despise wisdom and instruction and hate knowledge. Proverbs rightly recognizes that choosing friends and counselors is very important business. We usually become like those with whom we associate. Proverbs invests much space in describing the numerous, manifold benefits of seeking and heeding wisdom. Proverbs points out the folly, as well as the destruction that comes as a result of acting against sound moral teaching. Proverbs gives clear and explicit teaching with accompanying illustrations and applications regarding alcohol, sexual activity, business practices, benevolence, personal finances, controlling the tongue, honesty, governing, personal relationships, temper, laziness, dealing with success and failure, etc. and etc.
If we invested just a fraction of the time currently wasted on entertainment (Facebook, television, gaming, etc.) most of which is degenerative rather than regenerative, on studying the book of Proverbs, then we and our children would be much wiser and our communities and our world would be much safer and much more prosperous. More importantly, God would be honored.