“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?
Hi Jane, do you think there is a difference between “unwise” and “sinful?” Prudence, for example: is it a sin to not exercise careful good judgement? To swallow without examining?
The Bereans come to mind, as well as 1 Thess 5 in which we are told to test everything and hold on to the good. Both are in specific reference to the truth of God, to Scripture. Given the express command, I think not doing so would be sin. But on a larger and more general scale?
As you continue to read in Proverbs, do you see things that are merely wise and foolish without moral significance? Or are morality and wisdom synonymous?
Hi Kim, thank you for your comments and thought-producing questions. I appreciate them. I like your reference to the Bereans.
In regard to your question, “Is it a sin to not exercise careful judgment”? I think of the parables of the ten virgins and of the talents in Matthew 25. In these illustrations, lack of judgment, be it sin or not, resulted in sad consequences. “Are morality and wisdom synonymous”? A whole lot depends on our defintions, doesn’t it?
I’m looking forward to more understanding as I continue to study Proverbs.
Good point about definitions!
Thanks, Kim. And it’s challenging to define things in words that are both Scripturally accurate and culturally understandable. Yet, we can do it with the
I also attended a Billy Graham crusade in Toronto in the 70’s… It was life changing. As always, love your poetry, Jane… you have such a gift
Thank you, Ellen. I love YOUR poetry. You have a wonderful gift.
I have many good memories of Billy Graham.
I went to Syracuse, NY as a young girl with my parents, yes, I too was listening to his message & impressed with his love for God.
My young daughter Lynne & I watched a tv broadcast in our living room when she wanted “to invite Jesus into her heart.”
I’ve been to NC & his library, read almost all his books, and Ruth Graham’s. I wrote my Senior paper about Billy Graham in high school! Heaven is where I’ll meet him again!
Thanks for your post.
Thanks for sharing the memories you have of Billy Graham. What joy I feel in knowing that you have had experiences similar to mine. I love “Ruth Bell Graham’s Collected Poems”
A timely and “prudent” post. Your poem aptly describes the difference between the 2. You have a simple, loving manner that has great depth when presenting very important issues. Thank you, Jane for your faithfulness in blogging.
Thank you, Debbie, for your faithfulness in reading my posts and in encouraging me. I appreciate you.