In this episode, we discuss a fourth way to listen to God: through godly people. Like the three from the previous episode, this is also rooted in Proverbs. Solomon’s teaching on the wise and the foolish serves as a sort of blueprint to show us the way to meaningful success in our lives. What would life be like if we lived according to Proverbs, aligning with the path of wisdom? It would be characterized by controlled, not controlling appetites, personal relationships founded in wisdom, and a deeper understanding of God.
Listen to godly people
We have read the Bible, we have listen to the Spirit, we have look at nature, all right here in Proverbs. The other one is listening to others. We’ve got listen to others as well. Look at 5:1. This is an interesting one.
This is probably my favorite one, and it gives you a contrast. It says,
My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
Lend your ear to my understanding,
That you may preserve discretion,
And your lips may keep knowledge.
For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
Here it’s actually telling you, listen to godly people not ungodly people; and the primary ungodly people are immoral women.
You have kind of a contrast in this Proverbs passage: Immoral women and violent men seem to be the two patterns.
It says listen to God not immoral women.
Now where do a moral women talk to us in our culture, guys? You hear immoral women all the time. What are they usually trying to do?
Sell you something.
Sell you what? You sell you beer. Absolutely! If you want to solve all your problems, buy that beer, and then all your problems with women will be gone, all your problems will be gone.
Shaving cream. Certain kinds of shaving cream. If you buy the right kind, all your problems disappear.
Ford trucks. Yes, Ford trucks.
You know, it goes on and on. Don’t listen to that. Go to somebody. Ask someone who has a Ford truck whether it’s any good or not. That’s a lot better. That’s the basic idea.
And it goes on to tell you the antidote for this. This is probably the most important thing I’ll say today. In 5:15,
Drink water from your own cistern—
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
The way to prevent from listening to immoral women is have a lot of sex with your wife. Now if you go to Vince’s oneness course, that’s basically all he says the whole time.
Vince is old too! I said that to Terry, and I said, “I guess, you know, wife of your youth,” and he said, “No, no, no! It’s not young wife. It’s wife of your youth.” You just stick with it a long time. Good point. Good point.
Listen to others is certainly there.
1:8. My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
Why is listening to your parents a good thing? They’ve been there, right?
They’ve seen people in the street get run over. They know it’s a good idea not to go play in the street. They know which streets are safe and which streets aren’t safe.
They’ve seen electricity fry things. They know it’s good not to stick your tongue in the light socket. They know that.
They know biting on an extension cord is a bad idea. They know it from experience!
They know not to sit in ant beds. They know about ant beds. I mean you can take their word for it, or you can experience it yourself.
This is the principle again. Talk to people who’ve been there. Talk to people have been through it and gained benefit from that.
12:26. No surprise this one is here. 12:26. The righteous—it’s this same word again, the one who wants harmony in life, the one who wants the body to fit together, and everybody do what they do best.
The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray
You will be influenced by the people you’re around, so be careful about who you spend a lot of time with.
That’s the four categories. Listen to the spirit; it’s here in Proverbs. It’s been there a thousand years. Watch nature. Read the Bible; put it in your heart. Listen to other people who are godly people; avoid people who are not godly people.
If we do that, what would life look like according to Proverbs? What are some categorical things?
In Proverbs, you could spend entire lessons on a couple of verses. What I’m going to try to do is just look at some categories of things that if we live this life, if we’re listening to God, if we’re putting his word in our hearts, what should it look like? What are some keys where we can say, well if my life’s not doing that, maybe I’m not listening closely enough?
Let’s look at some things. First category I looked at here is appetites. The basic thing is, if you were living life God’s way, you’re not going to be controlled by your appetites, which is a really good thing.
We just looked at one of them. Sexual appetite is a very strong urge. What he says is there’s nothing wrong with that appetite. Channel it in the right way. Get a wife when you’re young.
People are marrying later and later these days. One of the main reasons they are is because they’re marrying early. Because in the Bible, marriage is not a piece of paper. Marriage is having sex with somebody.
If you go look at 1 Corinthians 6, it says do not combine yourself with a harlot because—this was standard practice in Corinth. You’d go down on the weekend. Go to the temple prostitutes or whatever. He’s telling them the standard practice in your city is not a good practice for you. He says because when you join yourself together with someone, you’re joining the spirit with them, and the two shall become one flesh, and you’re joining the Spirit of God with a harlot, and you shouldn’t be doing that.
Because oneness is oneness. You won’t see anything in the Bible about ceremonies and certificates. You’ll hear about parties.
But what’s happening is people are just getting married without saying they’re married.
It’s interesting—I read an article saying that in Christian youth, the divorce rate is just as high as non-Christian youth; and, a lot of times, it’s because they feel the pressure to get married early instead of just living together. I thought that’s a messed up idea. The guys that are living together just as married as the ones that went and got the party; they just didn’t spend the money, you know. That’s the only real difference.
Get married early. Stay with that wife for a long time. Be intimate for a long time. Don’t stop being intimate. This is a way to channel our desires, our appetites, in the right way. The other way is just chasing them all over the place, imaginary women on the internet or whatever ends up controlling you. Don’t be controlled by those appetites.
Paul also says, though, we should be like him, be single.
There’s another way to—because before you’re married, the way to channel that is in abstinence. That’s an appropriate thing to do as well. It’s not always in—as a matter of fact, the next thing we have says that.
25:27 It is not good to eat much honey;
Everybody here like cocoa puffs? How many boxes should you eat for breakfast every morning? You know there’s only so many cocoa puffs that anybody ought to eat.
In fact, type 2 diabetes and things are becoming more and more standard as our diets deteriorate. And it’s mainly because the American metabolism is slowing down, right? We can’t help it. Well, you know there’s a lot we can do, actually.
It says, hey, honey is great up to a point.
This is the same point that you’re making, Wally, that there’s a discipline involved with this too in just saying, “Hmmm, I think I won’t eat another bite.” Or, “I’m not going to put another helping on my plate,” or whatever it is.
With our appetites, there comes a point where we say, you know, this is not good for me anymore. And it’s interesting here, just like with this honey, So to seek one’s own glory is not glory. It’s not a good idea to always be looking for someone’s affirmation.
Anybody ever seen Brian Regan’s gag on the “Me Monster”? You haven’t ever seen that? I can’t reproduce it, but it’s really great.
He’s talking about being in a party, and he’s got somebody that’s just talking about themselves all the time. You know, “Me, me, me, me, me!”
He says, I was sitting there, and I finally got it; and I decided to just throw in a story. I can’t let this guy dominate all night. When I got done, the guy says, “Oh yeah? That’s nothing.”
“Well, sorry to waste everybody’s time.”
At the end he says, you know I wish I had been one of the guys that walked on the moon. I would always have a story that could up that guy. Just a little pause in the—“I walked on the moon. I was in the Sea of Tranquility one day thinking, ‘Gee, there’s no traffic, and I realized, oh! We’re the only ones up here!’”
Well that can be intolerable somebody always jumping in saying, “Hey, pay attention to me! I need some glory! I need some glory!”
It requires some discipline to say no. You know the third helping of Cocoa Puffs, you can also just kind of shut your mouth.
There’s this old saying that it’s better to be quiet and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. So glory. Appetites. The desire for honor. The desire for pleasure.
Proverbs 20:1. Talk about drugs.
Wine is a mocker,
Strong drink is a brawler,
And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
There are substances that you can escape from reality. One way to seek harmony is to conform things to your own desires, and that’s the temptation of wealthy people. Another thing to do is just escape from reality altogether. Immerse yourself in some alternate reality, some fantasy game, or some kind of drug-induced state.
I’ve been told that people think they’re really cool when they’re stoned or whatever. I saw a deal. Steven Tyler. He, apparently, would really get just rocked out of his mind before he went on stage. His friends finally showed him a video of his concert, and in his mind he was amazing. Then he saw a video of himself drunk and stumbling around or whatever he was, and he was so embarrassed that he was giving a bad show to people that he finally straightened up.
Isn’t that interesting? He was embarrassed because of his performance when he saw the feedback. That’s when he dried up.
We can escape, but all it does is create brawling and strife.
13:19. Another thing to do with appetites. This one’s an interesting one.
A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul,
But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil.
Another thing that we can do is find something that’s true that matches up with what we love doing and go pursue it with all our hearts. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Kind of the bottom line of this appetites is find a channel for them that’s constructive and true that leads to harmony. And when something doesn’t, either by amount or kind, choose life.
Appetites. One of the things we can do to say am I living a wise life is take a look at our appetites and how we’re interacting with them.
The other big category, I would say, is personal interactions. No surprise that this would have a lot of candidates.
Let’s look at 25:24. I’ll do a women’s verse. There’re a few on women, and the verses about men are all over the place, so I’ll just do a general category. Proverbs 25:24.
It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
Somebody said amen. What do women tend to do to try to get circumstances the way they want them? What do they use? Words. Yes, words. What kind of words, men? What are the words they use to the most effect that you hate the most? Disrespect. Criticism. And what are they trying to do with that disrespect and criticism? Trying to herd you. Where are they trying to herd you? Into the path they want you to go in. What does that cause men to do? Yeah. “Pi-yah! I want out of here,” right? “I do not want to do this.”
Or hunker down. “I can just make this go away if I just if I just tough it out.”
Or block it out. That’s another thing to do is block it out.
It doesn’t work, ladies. Men hate this. Often they won’t tell you. You know why they won’t tell you? Because in order to tell you, they have to use words, and that’s your battleground where you’re dominant, and men are reluctant to use words because they can’t keep up with you. They’re scared to death of being rejected by you, so they’d rather just accommodate somehow.
Because we’re cowards, and we’re brutes.
Because the other big category for men that’s just all over the place is violent and greedy men make the world a miserable place.
Why are we violent? To get away. It’s pretty typical for abusive men to be mostly accommodating. They take it, they take it, they take it, they take it, and then they lash out. Then they’re sorry. Then you start the cycle all over again.
Violence and greed. You know, that’s testosterone, right? I’m going to use my physical strength to make things the way I want it to be.
Obviously, the way around that is for us as men to channel that testosterone into something productive and constructive. For the women, to channel your wonderful verbal gift into something productive and constructive.
Let’s look at 10:12. All of us mess up. What do we do if you think to yourself, man, I’ve done a lot of that in my life? Here’s a real important thing for men and women both. Proverbs 10:12.
Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins.
All of us screw up, but if we have love, we have an opportunity to bring harmony again. That’s what we’re after. We’re after interactions that bring life. That’s why we want to be rich because we have this false notion that we can do this through control, but really, if people are coming together voluntarily, you get it anyway. That’s kind of the point.
Look at 9:7-9. Here’s a really good one.
“He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Here’s a really good thing to test and see how much you’re living in your life wisely. How much time are you spending with idiots trying to make them not be idiots? You’re wasting your time.
The pastoral staff here discovered something I thought was just amazingly wise, and I’ve taken it to heart ever since. They discovered that needy people, guess what? They’re needy. And they like it. What they want is someone to reinforce their neediness.
They discovered they would give them one thing to do and say, “Do this, and then we’ll talk to you again.”
Most of the time, they wouldn’t do that. They just stopped talking to them.
I thought that’s brilliant. Because you can’t always figure out who’s an idiot likes it that way, and who’s an idiot and would like not to be.
They figured this out. The idiots that want to be idiots won’t do anything; and the idiots who want to improve will actually change.
This kind of goes back to the why-do-we-go-to-the-Bible thing, right? We’re all idiots to various degrees. It’s just a matter of degree, isn’t it? Aren’t we all in a 12-step program to overcome self? We’re selfaholics. Isn’t that true? All the addictions and everything are just kind of minor subcategories of selfaholism, and the first part of selfaholism is to admit I have a problem! It’s me! I can’t solve it by myself! I need a greater power!
One of the things we can look at is, am I spending time on people that don’t want to get better? That’d create more harmony in our lives, wouldn’t it, if we’d do that?
Look at 11:12.
He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor,
But a man of understanding holds his peace.
A talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.
In interacting with our neighbors, the people we’re around, there’s actually ways to avoid conflict by just kind of keeping our mouths shut a lot of the time. If we’re going to have a conflict, it ought to be over something that really matters.
Care for what you say is a very common notion all through Proverbs. In fact, Proverbs 15:28 says,
The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
Isn’t that interesting? Not only are we swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, we really think about do I really want to talk to this person? If they’re an idiot, what’s probably the answer? Just don’t say anything. It’s not going to help. All it’s going to do is validate that they got your attention. And that’s really all they want. They don’t want to get better. All you’re doing is rewarding bad behavior.
On the other hand, it might be that there’s something very strategic that you can say that would help them take one step towards recovery. That’s worth saying. It might be that there’s a real important principle at stake that that needs to be fought over, and a stand needs to be made. That may be very possible. If that’s going to be the case, there needs to be a careful consideration about how to put that together. You never want to go to war without a careful plan. Makes sense?
We’ve got room for maybe a couple more. How about 17:17. This is a great one.
A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.
This is something in my political wanderings I’ve learned. I have some friends that have come under really severe fire. You know what they found out? Who their friends were.
It was a very painful lesson; and a good one because a real friend’s one that will come alongside when the fire’s in full. That’s something worth looking at. What kind of friend am I?
How about 19:6.
Many entreat the favor of the nobility,
And every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.
Are you a gift giver? You know that’s not my orientation is to buy presents; it doesn’t even occur to me. What I try to do is pick up the check. And I get invited to a lot of stuff just because they know I’ll pay. I’m OK with it. I get to go along. That mainly involves my kids. I know I’m only being invited so I’ll pay. I’m OK with it.
One more 16:32.
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
In the Great Leaders program, what do you call this? Being emotion informed, not emotion led, or something like that?
Don’t be emotion led nor emotionless.
Don’t be emotion led or emotionless. We all have emotions. In fact, I like to say that’s why we act is because of emotions.
If you get really angry, you’re forced to decide something, aren’t you? What’s one decision you can make?
Act on the anger.
You’re going to act on the anger no matter what; that’s my point. What are the decisions you can make?
I shouldn’t be angry.
Can you actually make that decision? “I’m just going to stop being angry right now”? “I’m not angry anymore! Emotions are gone!”
Can you do that?
You can work toward it.
You can work toward it. Can you actually do that in the moment? You really can’t. You have to make a decision of an action to take. What’s one action you can take?
Yeah I can choose not to act right now. I can say, “I would like to choke Trevor.” Everything in me is saying choke,” and I can choose not to choke. I can do that, right? My anger is still forcing me to take an action. I’ve got my will, and I’m saying, “I’m not going to say anything right now.”
I learned this in basketball. I’m looking at you. I learned this in basketball. I learned I had to stop at the stand-up-and-say-one-word phase because once I said one word, I was going to yell the whole game. I just learned that was the case. I’ve got some really bad stories about that. I will probably burn for my basketball experiences.
By the time Wally was at Tech or whatever, I just sat passively in my chair, and I wouldn’t even yell for the team because I knew once I started yelling, I might yell at something else. Because I had to take an action. Because injustice is happening! On the floor! And I must fix it! And I can do so! And they will change! If I yell loud enough. I’m just being an idiot, you know. I’m embarrassed, but it’s reality.
That’s what I had to learn. I had to make a choice.
The other thing I can do is just go ahead and lash out. That’s why it’s the other thing I can do. “Oh yeah? Let me tell you about you!” If I tell you about you, I will feel better for the moment, and I can feel bad later.
There a lot of things in this great book, Proverbs, that we can look at and say am I listening? Am I listening? Because what I want to be is rich. I want to have this harmonious life that fits in wonderfully with everybody else. I want to live a life of a king, of a potentate, and the way I do that is by living the way God made the world, and stop fighting against it.
These are some ways I can look and say, am I listening? How well am I conforming my life? Because what I want to do is come to this word and be rebuked and change because I want to be rich. I want to have great income.
I know that if I have actual, tangible wealth, human wealth, it’s just more responsibility.