“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment.
I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.”
(Proverbs 8: 12 NLT)
The recent death of Reverend Billy Graham, who became known as “America’s pastor”, brought back special memories to me. While a teenager, I attended one of his early crusades in Minneapolis, MN. I choose Northwestern College, a school which he founded, for my first year of study beyond high school. Years later, my husband and I heard him speak at a conference for Christian leaders in Boston.
The thing that most impressed me about Billy Graham was the quality and depth of his character. He displayed integrity, wisdom, and compassion. He practiced what he preached. He was truly honest and, yet, deeply humble. I believe he well represented the Christ whom he recommended.
Billy Graham’s handbook for life was the Bible. I heard that he read the Old Testament books of Proverbs and Psalms every month. Proverbs, a book of wisdom, contains 31 chapters, so he would need to have read one chapter every day. Psalms, a bo0k of song lyrics and prayers, contains 150 chapters so he would need to have read 3 chapters every day. I’m sure that he, also, read other parts of the Bible on a regular basis.
Although I’ve read the Bible through more than once, in recent years, I’ve chosen to read shorter or favorite parts of it. Inspired by Billy Graham’s practice, I thought about reading both Proverbs and Psalms during the month of March. But reading both of these books in one month would not be a realistic goal for me, so I decided to limit myself to one of them. On March 1, I began reading the book of Proverbs.
I’m freshly motivated to diligently practice the principles of wisdom that I’m reading about. One principle is prudence. Now, prudence (not to be confused with the word “prude”) is not a word that we commonly use, today.
These are dictionary definitions of prudence: 1) careful good judgment that allows someone to avoid danger and risks. 2) caution with regard to practical matters; discretion. The opposite of prudence is naive. This is a dictionary definition of naive: having or showing a lack of judgment, knowledge, and experience.
I think that a poem might offer an interesting, as well as an informative definition and comparison of these two concepts. I just happen to have one.
Prudence and naivety were walking down the road.
After a while, they met a stranger who offered them some food.
Naivety just swallowed it; she assumed all things were good.
But prudence first examined it; she wisely understood
Appearance can deceive us–unless we’re very shrewd.
Things which, at first, taste sweet might turn sour when they’re chewed.
(p. 101 in Heart Connections: Finding Joy through Openness with God, by Jane Ault)
Questions for reflection
- How can caring too much about our appearance affect our integrity?
- How can caring too little about our appearance be unwise?
- Do prudent people care at all about their appearance? Why or why not?