STUDY ARTICLE 43
True Wisdom Is Crying Aloud
“True wisdom cries aloud in the street. It keeps raising its voice in the public squares.”—PROV. 1:20.
SONG 88 Make Me Know Your Ways
1. How do many respond to the call of wisdom today? (Proverbs 1:20, 21)
IN MANY lands, it has been common to see happy Kingdom publishers on busy streets offering literature to passersby. Have you ever engaged in this interesting form of the ministry? If you have, no doubt you have thought about the word picture found in the book of Proverbs—that of wisdom calling out in public for people to hear its advice. (Read Proverbs 1:20, 21.) The Bible and our publications contain “true wisdom”—Jehovah’s wisdom. This is the very information people need so that they can take the first step toward the path to life. We are delighted when someone accepts one of our publications. But not all do. Some prefer to remain ignorant of what the Bible says. Others laugh at us. They think that the Bible is outdated. Still others criticize the Bible’s teaching on moral matters, claiming that those who follow it are harsh and judgmental. Yet, Jehovah lovingly continues to make true wisdom available to all. In what ways?
2. How is true wisdom made available today, but what do most people choose to do?
2 One way in which Jehovah makes true wisdom heard is by means of his Word, the Bible. That book is available to almost everyone. And what about our Bible-based publications? Thanks to Jehovah’s blessing, they are available in more than 1,000 languages. Those who listen, that is, who read and apply what they learn, will benefit. However, most people choose to ignore the voice of true wisdom. When they have decisions to make, they prefer to rely on themselves or to listen to fellow humans. They may even look down on us because we choose to follow what the Bible says. This article will discuss why people react this way. First, though, let us consider how we can acquire wisdom from Jehovah.
KNOWLEDGE OF JEHOVAH LEADS TO WISDOM
3. What does true wisdom involve?
3 Wisdom can refer to the ability to use what we know to make good decisions. However, true wisdom involves more. The Bible states: “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Most Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10) So when we have an important decision to make, we should make Jehovah’s thinking—“knowledge of the Most Holy One”—the basis for our decision. We can do that by consulting the Bible and Bible-based publications. When we do, we are showing true wisdom.—Prov. 2:5-7.
4. Why is Jehovah the only one who can give us true wisdom?
4 Jehovah is the only one who can give us true wisdom. (Rom. 16:27) Why is he the Source of wisdom? First, as the Creator, he has unlimited knowledge and understanding of his creation. (Ps. 104:24) Second, all of Jehovah’s actions reflect wisdom. (Rom. 11:33) Third, Jehovah’s wise counsel always benefits those who apply it. (Prov. 2:10-12) If we are to acquire true wisdom, we must accept these basic truths and allow them to guide us when making decisions and when taking a course of action.
5. What is the outcome when people refuse to acknowledge Jehovah as the Source of true wisdom?
5 Many we meet in the ministry admit that there is marvelous design in nature; yet, they deny that there is a Creator and give the credit to evolution. Others we meet claim to believe in God, but they view Bible standards as outdated and choose to follow their own course. What has been the result? Is the world a better place because people rely on their own wisdom instead of God’s? Have they found real happiness or a solid hope for the future? What we observe around us convinces us of this truth: “There is no wisdom, nor discernment, nor counsel in opposition to Jehovah.” (Prov. 21:30) What an incentive that is for us to look to Jehovah for true wisdom! Sadly, most people do not. Why?
WHY PEOPLE REJECT TRUE WISDOM
6. According to Proverbs 1:22-25, who turn a deaf ear to the call of true wisdom?
6 Many turn a deaf ear when true wisdom “cries aloud in the street.” According to the Bible, there are three groups of people who reject wisdom: “inexperienced ones,” “ridiculers,” and “foolish ones.” (Read Proverbs 1:22-25.) Let us look more closely at the traits that cause such ones to reject godly wisdom, and let us also consider how we can avoid developing those traits.
7. Why do some choose to remain as “inexperienced ones”?
7 The “inexperienced ones” are those who are naive, easily persuaded, or deceived. (Prov. 14:15, ftn.) We often meet such ones in our ministry. Think, for example, of the millions who are being misled by religious or political leaders. Some are horrified when they learn that they have been fooled by such leaders. But those mentioned at Proverbs 1:22 choose to remain inexperienced because they like it that way. (Jer. 5:31) They enjoy following their own inclinations and do not want to learn what the Bible says or to be held accountable to its standards. Many feel as did one devoutly religious woman in Quebec, Canada, who said to a visiting Witness, “If our priest has misled us, it will be his fault, not ours!” We certainly do not want to imitate those who are willfully ignorant!—Prov. 1:32; 27:12.
8. What will help us to gain the right kind of experience?
8 With good reason, the Bible encourages us not to remain inexperienced but to “become full-grown in [our] understanding.” (1 Cor. 14:20) We acquire the right kind of experience by applying Bible principles in our life. Little by little, we learn firsthand how those principles help us to avoid problems and make wise decisions. We do well to check our progress in this regard. If we have been studying the Bible and attending meetings for some time, we might ask ourselves why we have still not taken steps to make a dedication to Jehovah and get baptized. If we are baptized, are we making progress as a preacher and teacher of the good news? Do our decisions show that we are guided by Bible principles? Are we displaying Christian qualities in our dealings with others? If we see room for improvement, let us pay attention to Jehovah’s reminders, which ‘make the inexperienced one wise.’—Ps. 19:7.
9. How do “ridiculers” show that they reject wisdom?
9 The second group of people who ignore godly wisdom are the “ridiculers.” At times, we come across such individuals in our preaching work. They enjoy mocking others. (Ps. 123:4) The Bible warned that in the last days, there would be no shortage of ridiculers. (2 Pet. 3:3, 4) Like the sons-in-law of righteous Lot, some people today pay no attention to divine warnings. (Gen. 19:14) Many laugh at those who live by Bible principles. The ridiculers are motivated by “their own desires for ungodly things.” (Jude 7, 17, 18) How well the Bible’s description of ridiculers fits apostates and others who have rejected Jehovah!
10. As stated at Psalm 1:1, how can we avoid the course of ridiculers?
10 How can we safeguard ourselves from following the course of ridiculers? One way is to avoid associating with those who show a critical attitude. (Read Psalm 1:1.) This means that we do not listen to or read anything from apostates. We realize that if we are not careful, we could easily develop a critical spirit and begin to doubt Jehovah and the direction we receive through his organization. To avoid such a course, we can ask ourselves: ‘Do I usually have something negative to say when we receive new direction or explanations? Am I inclined to find fault with those taking the lead?’ When we are quick to correct such tendencies in ourselves, Jehovah will be pleased with us.—Prov. 3:34, 35.
11. How do the “foolish ones” view Jehovah’s moral standards?
11 The third group of people who reject wisdom are the “foolish ones.” They are foolish because they refuse to live by God’s moral laws. They do what is right in their own eyes. (Prov. 12:15) Such ones reject Jehovah, the Source of wisdom. (Ps. 53:1) When we meet them in the preaching work, they often sharply criticize us for respecting Bible standards. But they have nothing better to offer. The Bible states: “True wisdom is unattainable for a fool; he has nothing to say in the city gate.” (Prov. 24:7) The foolish do not have any words of genuine wisdom to offer. No wonder Jehovah warns us to “stay away from the foolish man”!—Prov. 14:7.
12. What will help us reject the course of the foolish ones?
12 Unlike those who hate godly counsel, we cultivate love for God’s ways, including his moral standards. We can strengthen that love by comparing the results of obedience with those of disobedience. Observe the kinds of problems people bring on themselves because they foolishly reject Jehovah’s wise counsel. Then consider how much better your life is because you obey God.—Ps. 32:8, 10.
13. Does Jehovah force us to obey his wise counsel?
13 Jehovah makes wisdom available to all, but he does not force anyone to accept it. He does, however, describe the results that come to those who do not listen to wisdom. (Prov. 1:29-32) Those who choose not to obey Jehovah will “bear the consequences of their way.” In time, their lifestyle will bring them nothing but distress, trouble, and eventual destruction. On the other hand, those who listen to Jehovah’s wise counsel and apply what it says are promised: “The one listening to me will dwell in security and be undisturbed by the dread of calamity.”—Prov. 1:33.
TRUE WISDOM BENEFITS US
14-15. What do we learn from Proverbs 4:23?
14 When we apply God’s wisdom, we always benefit. As we have discussed, Jehovah makes wise counsel freely available. For instance, throughout the book of Proverbs, he provides timeless advice that will improve our life if we apply it. Let us consider just four examples of such wise counsel.
15 Protect your figurative heart. The Bible states: “Above all the things that you guard, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” (Prov. 4:23) Think of what it takes to protect our literal heart. We need to eat healthy food, get sufficient exercise, and avoid bad habits. We do something similar to protect our figurative heart. We daily feed on God’s Word. We prepare for and attend Christian meetings, and we participate in them. We stay active by regularly exerting ourselves in the ministry. And we avoid developing bad habits by staying clear of anything that could corrupt our thinking, such as immoral entertainment and bad association.
16. Why is Proverbs 23:4, 5 so practical today?
16 Be content with what you have. The Bible gives this advice: “Do not wear yourself out to gain wealth. . . . When you cast your eyes on it, it is not there, for it will surely sprout wings like an eagle and fly off into the sky.” (Prov. 23:4, 5) Material wealth is not guaranteed to last. Yet, both rich and poor today are obsessed with making money. This preoccupation often causes them to behave in a way that harms their reputation, their relationships, and even their health. (Prov. 28:20; 1 Tim. 6:9, 10) On the other hand, wisdom helps us to have a balanced view of money. Such a viewpoint protects us against greed and leads us to contentment and happiness.—Eccl. 7:12.
17. How can we acquire “the tongue of the wise,” as mentioned at Proverbs 12:18?
17 Think before you speak. If not careful, we can cause great harm with our words. The Bible states: “Thoughtless speech is like the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise is a healing.” (Prov. 12:18) We preserve good relationships when we avoid gossiping about the faults of others. (Prov. 20:19) For our speech to heal rather than to hurt, we must fill our heart with knowledge from God’s Word. (Luke 6:45) When we meditate on what the Bible says, our words can become like a “fountain of wisdom” that refreshes others.—Prov. 18:4.
18. How can applying Proverbs 24:6 help us succeed in the ministry?
18 Follow direction. The Bible offers this practical advice for success: “By wise guidance you will wage your war, and through many advisers there is success.” (Prov. 24:6, ftn.) Consider how applying this principle leads to success in our preaching and teaching work. Rather than carry out the ministry in our own way, we try to follow the suggestions we have been given. We receive wise guidance at our Christian meetings, where experienced advisers give Bible-based talks and presentations to train us. In addition, Jehovah’s organization provides useful tools—publications and videos—that can help people to understand the Bible. Are you learning to use these tools effectively?
19. How do you feel about the wisdom that Jehovah provides? (Proverbs 3:13-18)
19 Read Proverbs 3:13-18. How grateful we are for the sound advice found in God’s Word! Where would we be without it? In this article, we have reviewed examples of practical wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. Of course, Jehovah has provided wise sayings throughout the Scriptures. Let us be determined always to act on the wisdom that Jehovah provides. The way the world views such wisdom is not important to us; we are convinced that “those who keep firm hold of [wisdom] will be called happy.”
SONG 36 We Guard Our Hearts
^ The wisdom Jehovah provides is far superior to anything the world has to offer. In this article, we will examine an intriguing word picture in the book of Proverbs—that of wisdom crying aloud in a city square. We will discuss how we can acquire true wisdom, why some turn a deaf ear to wisdom, and how we benefit when we respond to its call.