Hi, thanks for joining me today. My name is Mark Wasemiller and I attend the Bethel Richland campus with my wife, Beth. I have attended Bethel for thirty yrs and I currently lead a small group. Today we are going to take a look at Proverbs 22 . . . yes, the whole chapter. You have probably heard it said that Proverbs falls into the biblical genre known as “Wisdom Literature”. They are very specific, particular statements. God uses them to speak to us about the minute details of life that can, and should, be applied in a broader context. Allow me to propose a minor paradigm shift to you. We will look today at Proverbs 22 from a perspective which says the same thing but from a slightly different angel. Namely, that Proverbs are promises within a context.
Let’s examine the whole of Proverbs 22 in the light of the 1st verse. Proverbs 22:1 reads in the ESV: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” Let’s carry this theme of “choosing a good name” throughout the chapter.
Part of the process of choosing a good name is also guarding your good name/reputation. Traffic engineers design guardrails on roads as a visual warning to the driver that danger lies beyond. It is wise to put up guardrails in life to protect ourselves, and to protect those who depend on us, from the potential dangers we will encounter as we navigate the road of life. As pastor Andy Stanley points out in his Bible study “Guardrails” that you can find on RIGHT NOW MEDIA – funny thing about guardrails, they are never right at the very edge of the cliff, at the very edge of danger. They are always placed back away from it. Ignoring guardrails, or even worse, not erecting them at all, you run the risk of getting too close to the edge. The closer you are to the edge, the more likely you are to fall off, as 22:3 states “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
When I was eight years old, my family took a trip to Nebraska to visit my grandparents on my mom’s side. While there, we went to Lake Ogallala. I remember stopping at a place along the lake with high cliffs. When you looked down into the water, you could see these large, dark shapes below . . . fish, most likely carp. Being an eight-year-old, I was attracted to getting a closer look. So, I walked right up to within a few feet of the edge. No one had installed any guardrails. Now this wasn’t a rock cliff, no, it was pure soil. Silty sandy soil, not the most stable material. But being eight yrs old, the stability of the soil, and the sheerness of the cliff, wasn’t what I was thinking about.
My mother on the other hand was highly aware of the situation I was creating due to my foolishness and I remember her yelling “Mark …. get back away from there!!” It was a good thing for me, and everyone else there that day, that the soil didn’t collapse under me resulting with me being some ten or twelve feet, or more, down that lake bank and into water that I had no idea of the depth. The end results could have been catastrophic. Fortunately, my mother’s loving and loud warning to me kept me from getting even closer to the edge, and that is the reason I am here to share with you today!
Not having guardrails, whether it is on a road, a lake bank, or in our life, or ignoring the ones that are in place, is foolish. All of us are born with foolishness to spare . . . as Proverbs 22:15 states “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”
Proverbs 22 verses 2-29 are God’s prudent suggestions for areas of our life where He has placed guardrails and informs us where we need guardrails in order to choose and protect a good name, a good reputation. By choosing a good name and putting up guardrails to protect it, we act wisely because a good name is something that cannot be bought with silver or gold.
Proverbs 22 speaks about several areas of life that we must be on our guard, because if we are not, the end results will be the loss of, or damage to, a good name. For example, Proverbs 22 verses 7 & 26 inform us that people who value their name make wise financial decisions. They understand there are pitfalls and potentially serious consequences to borrowing money and co-signing for loans. But they also know and understand there are great blessings associated with being generous. As 22:9 says, “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed for he shares his bread with the poor.” God also warns us in verses 22 & 23 against being cold-hearted to those down on their luck.
We can imply from Proverbs 22:11 that people who value their good name guard their name and reputation by guarding their social life. This is of paramount importance in today’s, unfortunately, social media driven culture.
A wise individual doesn’t put himself in risky situations.
A wise individual doesn’t choose to associate with individuals who practice immoral behavior, or with hot-tempered people because they know such associations will eventually and ultimately lead to disaster. These topics are covered in Proverbs 22: 3-8, verse 14, and verses 24-25 as well as 1 Corinthians 15:33.
People who value their good name guard what goes into their minds and what comes out of their mouths. This way they are prepared to apply knowledge to a situation and speak words of wisdom when the need arises. This comes from Proverbs 22:11-12 and 17-20.
Proverbs 22:6 and 15 tell us that people who value their good name also value the reputations of their children and teach them to make wise choices.
And most importantly, when God’s people value their good name, they do so to bring glory to His name, not their own as we learn from Proverbs 22:4. Since foolishness doesn't necessarily disappear with age, the remedy is to learn the wisdom of God and then discipline ourselves to obey His instructions. It's never too late to act in wisdom in any area of your life and by doing so, choose a good name for yourself.
Let’s pray. . .Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are the God of all wisdom. In your wisdom, you have shown us the value and importance of a good name, of a good reputation, and shown us the choices that we can make so as acquire and keep them. You have promised if anybody lacks wisdom, we should ask you, and you will give us that wisdom. I ask you for wisdom now, Lord. Help each of us to make wise decisions that are for our good, and for your glory. You give us wisdom not because we have earned it, but because it is a free and gracious gift. You are a generous, loving Father, and all wisdom is found in you, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.