Lesson for Sept. 11, 2011: Making Right Choices (Proverbs 4:1-27)

This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for September 11) is written by Jeremy Lawson, minister with Mount Pleasant Church of Christ, Williamstown, Kentucky.


Making Right Choices (Proverbs 4:1-27)

By Jeremy Lawson

I have made some pretty good decisions in my life. I am something of a scatterbrain, so marrying a woman who pays close attention to details was a good decision. Before leaving for college, I sold my Camaro that got only 15 mpg, and—even though it still breaks my heart—that was a good decision.

But for all the good decisions I’ve made, there have been many bad decisions, as well. I worked for a moving company one summer during college. Bad decision. A few years into my marriage, I bought some new golf clubs that we really couldn’t afford. Bad decision. For the sake of time—and personal embarrassment—I will stop there, but trust me when I say there are many more bad decisions I could list.

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Any honest person would agree, we have all made good decisions we are proud of and bad decisions we would rather not talk about. In any given situation, what determines whether we will make a good decision or a bad decision? In a word, wisdom.


Seek Wisdom

Proverbs 4 offers some much-needed insight into the importance of wisdom. This proverb is structured as an older man’s advice to younger men, and his one piece of advice is simply to seek wisdom all the days of life. “Do not forsake wisdom,” the older man says, “and she will protect you” (v. 6). Wisdom is personified as a woman in verses 6-9, and the older man tells the younger men to pursue her with everything they have.

Wisdom, this older man knows, is the ability to discern the best choice—and this ability to discern will determine the direction one’s life will take. Those who seek and find wisdom will walk on a path of righteousness that “is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the day of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble” (vv. 18, 19).

If wisdom is so instrumental in making good decisions and mapping a good direction, how does one find it? The easiest answer is to ask the Lord for wisdom. James writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). This may sound too simple, but it is astute advice. When you need wisdom, pray. Ask God to show you the proper direction for your life. Ask God to show you the right thing to do in a certain situation. Pray with confidence, for God gives wisdom generously to those who are willing to ask and wait for his answer. It is one thing to ask for God’s wisdom, but another thing to wait for it. Those who truly want God’s help are willing to both ask for it and wait for it.


Listen for Wisdom

Wisdom also can be found in the counsel of others. In Proverbs 4:20-22, the older man pleads to the younger men to remember his words, for they are the words of life. The older man is giving advice about wisdom to benefit the younger men, not himself. All of us—young and old—should admit we are not as smart as we think we are. There are times when we don’t know the best choice and we could use a little help.

Bible background. Pronunciation guide. Real-life commentary. Discussion questions. Find it all in Standard Lesson Commentary.

A great place to find wisdom is in the counsel of those who have already walked down the road we are traveling on. An older and more knowledgeable person’s experience can be very helpful, if we will just shed our pride long enough to ask for some advice. Make sure it’s godly counsel, because ungodly counsel will always lead down the wrong road.

If I could do it all over again, I would go back and undo some of the terrible decisions I have made. But because I cannot go back, I must remember the lessons learned so I won’t repeat those mistakes. While we cannot undo the past, we all can seek wisdom in the present with the hope that the way of wisdom leads to straight paths.


*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

September 5: Proverbs 23:15-19
September 6: Psalm 84:8-12
September 7: Joshua 23:1-8
September 8: Psalm 91:9-16
September 9: Proverbs 1:8-15
September 10: Proverbs 4:1-9
September 11: Proverbs 4:10-15, 20-27


Jeremy Lawson graduated from Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University in 2008 with a degree in biblical studies. He and his wife, Cara, serve with the Mount Pleasant Church of Christ in Williamstown, Kentucky.


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