Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Christian: Proverbs 1:4 (Day 3)

Josiah Espinoza | June 12th, 2019 

To give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth. ~ Proverbs 1:4

“to give prudence to the simple”- Prudence is a necessary virtue in a fallen and broken world. To be prudent is to be cautious, aware, and wise about your surroundings. A child has no sense of imminent danger because they are naive and there is beauty in the wide eyed, naiveté of a child or adolescent, because they just see people and the world as beautiful. But it is dangerous because there is no real sense of immediate evils that reign in the hearts of humanity. From very little, my wife and I have taught our children not to speak to strangers, not because we believe that every person she talks to will snatch her away, but because the day she least expects it is the day that it may happen. She is simple, she is a child, and I love that about her, but she is naïve. I have taught her about the evils that rule in the hearts of man and that everyone is wicked, and that even she has sin reigning in her heart, but the concepts escape her reasoning. Nonetheless, by teaching her about life, I am teaching her prudence. She does not comprehend the fullness or magnitude of evil and to some extent neither do I, but that knowledge of knowing that I don’t know causes great cautiousness in me.

The foolish that have not learned from wise council dwell in their naiveté. They go throughout life assuming that everyone is good, that everyone strives toward righteousness and justice, and yet, at every given opportunity, they are taken advantage of.  Teaching prudence to a young man or women can greatly prepare them for the pains of this life. There are those who would say, “But what about their innocence? A child should retain their innocence as long as they can.” Naïveté is not synonymous with innocence. Innocence is the ability to live righteously and justly with the knowledge that the world is broken and full of ravenous wolves that are ready to devour you at any given moment. That is why Jesus commands his disciples to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, because he was sending them out into the world where there are great evils unknown to them.[1] In like manner, we too are to walk in the truth of God, living righteously and justly, all the while maintaining prudence in our daily activities, always on guard and always ready for the evils that may come against us.

” Teaching prudence to a young man or women can greatly prepare them for the pains of this life. “

“knowledge and discretion to the youth”- We far too often believe that knowledge is what you gain in the university. For Solomon, knowledge was not information about facts and figures, but about the realities of life. When we learn about the world, its evils and its beauties, then that knowledge lays the foundation for discretion. Discretion runs parallel to prudence. Prudence prepares the heart and mind, discretion is the outward action of prudence. When one has obtained discretion through knowledge of how the world is, then they wisely know how to act truly and rightly in any given situation. You can say that prudence is the training of the heart and mind and discretion is the training in motion. Like a boxer that has trained his body and mind to memorize offensive and defensive tactics so that when it comes time to fight in the ring, his mind and body act with discretion to his opponents ever changing actions. In the same way, a young man or woman who has learned prudence through knowledge and wise council is able to act with discretion in the situation that they may find themselves. So then take heed and know that life is full of victories and tragedies. You will be tested in every facet of your life. The child of God is not exempt from the sufferings and evils of this world. You will face evil, but take courage; Christ has overcome the evils of this world.[2] People will try to take advantage of you, and some will succeed, but always practice prudence and allow for the Spirit to grant discretion in the situation you find yourself. In all situations, tell the truth, fight for the truth, live for the truth. Be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves because all around are evils beyond our understanding.


[1] Mt. 10:16- Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

[2] Jn. 16:33- I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

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