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Seeking Wisdom, Day 26 – Smoothing the Path

March 17, 2016

Proverbs 26 provides a complicated path to wisdom. So much is said that I can’t help wondering if I am going to overlook something important. How can I select a few verses to illustrate what I want to say? Suddenly a single word leaps into my befuddlement. It’s not a word I often hear or use. Perhaps I have never thought about it much, but I have been thinking about Day 25, Backing Up the Enemy, and the word seems to clarify that message and add insight.

The word is discretion.  Discretion, meaning consideration, showing concern for others privacy, trusting, suppressing curious inquiry, prudent, circumspect, and using good judgment, – discretion encircles so many attributes on the road to wisdom. Wow!

One epigram I remember steers discretion: “Discretion (prudence) is the better part of valor.” Valor is bravery, especially in battle, but further research makes the proverb  more clear. “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.” We hate to lose a battle, and we will fight until the bitter end,  but sometimes it is better to stop, regroup, and change plans. Dead dogs don’t fight. Discretion tell us when it’s time to turn, but it’s often ignored. Solomon says, “A proverb in the mouth of a fool is as useless as a paralyzed leg.” (Proverbs 26: 9) Discretion (being circumspect) is needed to use these proverbs.

Notice the paradox in the following quotes from Proverbs 26. “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools or you will become as foolish as they.” (26: 6) and “Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will think they are wise.” (26: 7)) Confused? We will need discretion (common sense) to determine which fools to ignore and which fools to teach. Remember that it is foolish to “cast your pearls among swine”; and to educate a “man without morals is to educate a menace to society.” We will need discretion to decide what to do.

Ir seems certain that a quarrelsome person starts fights easily (Proverbs 26: 21) and smooth words may hide a wicked heart. Can we call discretion common sense, and employ our common sense with the laws acquired from God? May God grant us more wisdom. Life is complicated, but discretion smooths our paths.

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