When we take our time and delay before acting, that can be prudent and wise, but then that can also be plain laziness. When we consider something over and over, that can be prudent and wise, but then that can also be indecisiveness. When we hold our tongue when insulted, that can be prudent and wise, but then can also be cowardice in disguise. The reason behind our actions, the state of our hearts when we decide, is the true indication of wisdom and prudence.
Who is the prudent man? He is cautious, shows discretion, has discernment, and makes sound judgement. He does not delay for the sake of delaying or think long because he cannot decide but he is tactful in his considerations, decides with discernment and considers not only the now but what his action or inaction can lead to.
Prudence cannot be without wisdom and vice versa. In fact, in Proverbs 8:12 (NIV) it was said,
“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.” Further on, wisdom said, “Good advice and sound judgement belong to me, perception to me, strength to me.” Proverbs 8:14 NJB
Therefore, one cannot be wise if one is not prudent at all!
Wisdom is something we desire. I hope. Without desiring prudence, our desire to have wisdom is like wanting a mobile phone without a battery – pointless. The same thing goes for all the other virtues that we want to achieve. Prudence is like the guiding star for the decisions we must make in life – to move forward or step back, to move now or to wait a while, to speak or to keep silent, to fight or to back down. Who is one of the devil’s worst enemies? A prudent man – cannot be deceived, provoked nor shaken.
Nowadays, many virtues are dwindling down, choked by all the ideologies and promotions the world has been offering our generation. Why wait when you can have it now? Why endure when you can quit now? Why forgive when you can get even? Why consider your actions when you can get away with it? Why spend time with the Bible when you don’t even have enough time to check your social media? Why listen to the elders when their ways are too bygone and their advice outdated? They say carpe diem, because we only live once. Well, that is exactly why we should live wisely and prudently – BECAUSE WE ONLY LIVE ONCE, this one life to determine where we spend our eternity.
“In the eyes of the fool the way he goes is right, the wise man listens to advice. The fool shows his displeasure straight away, the discreet man overlooks the insult.” Proverbs 12:15 – 16 NJB
We all want to be wise with our affairs. But there is a distinction between what the world considers wise and what God considers wise. If wise is getting away with things, getting ahead by not following rules, being successful and rich at the expense of others – wise is such a sad state to be in. Let us desire to have the wisdom that comes from God and not from a corrupted world. The only way I am aware of in how to acquire wisdom and be prudent is TO KNOW THE TRUE SOURCE OF WISDOM. READ THE BIBLE AND PRAY. To read the Bible is to know God. To pray is to talk and to listen to God. When you know someone fully well, his thoughts and his instincts also become yours. Just like how you knew the colour your best friend would choose or the food your sister would order. To be able to listen to God’s voice, first we must know His voice.
The book of Proverbs, by the wise King Solomon, offer us insights about wisdom and prudence. However, memorizing the whole book of Proverbs isn’t the same as heeding its words, and taking verses out of context to suit our needs is downright unwise. I pray that in our quest to gain wisdom, we draw closer to the Source of it and that in drawing closer and knowing God, we gain wisdom and be prudent in our living.
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
for learning what wisdom and discipline are,
for understanding words of deep meaning,
for acquiring an enlightened attitude of mind
– virtue, justice and fair dealing;
for teaching sound judgement to the ignorant,
and knowledge and sense to the young;
for perceiving the meaning of proverbs and obscure sayings,
the sayings of the sages and their riddles.
Let the wise listen and he will learn yet more,
and the man of discernment will acquire the art of guidance.
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge;
fools spurn wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:1 – 7 NJB