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Words of ancient wisdom speak to today’s challenges

Is it possible that a document penned over 2,700 years ago can still provide solutions to modern-day problems?    

Focus on the Family president Jim Daly recently spoke on same-sex marriage on NPR's 'Weekend Edition Sunday.'
Focus on the Family president Jim Daly recently spoke on same-sex marriage on NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday." | (Photo: Twitter/Jim Daly)

I’m not referring to petty agitations either – I’m talking about massive boulders that derail and destroy whole civilizations: lust and laziness, sin and selfishness, narcissism, egotism – even violence and wars.    

The book of Proverbs was written primarily by King Solomon of Israel, the son of King David, and it’s full of great and timeless pearls of wisdom – over 3,000 of them, in fact. I’ve been reading the book since I became a Christian in high school, and the words come alive each time I sit and read the text.    

Recently, though, I was particularly intrigued by the Scripture’s relevancy in light of this wildly chaotic and uneven summer of 2020. As riots, looting and murder fill each day’s headlines, Solomon’s insights provide wisdom and shine a bright light on the way forward.   

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck (Proverbs 1:8-9).   

Sadly, I can almost guarantee that the vast majority of the rioters and looters have grown up in broken homes.  In other words, they have not received their “father’s instruction” – and their mother has likely lost her influence long ago.   

Children growing up without a father in the home are four times more likely to be living in poverty, are at a dramatically increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse and committing crimes, and twice as likely to commit suicide.    

As Solomon indicated, parents matter!  

My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them (Proverbs 1:10).   

Both adults and children are surrounded by temptation at every turn. It’s on their phones, computers, television – even seemingly innocent interactions in the neighborhood or office. Maybe we cut an ethical corner here and there to save some money – who will know – and who will even care?  

Scripture is clear – we’re to run from evil and temptation. “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart,” the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy.  

Don’t think you can flirt with sin – it will eventually catch up to you and destroy everything you love and hold dear.  

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech (Proverbs 1:20-21).  

Few, if any, cities have gates anymore, but the public square manifests in many ways these days. From protests in the streets to television, entertainment and social media, rarely have men and women had so many different media by which to raise their voice.  

Are we bringing a message of hope and healing – or fear and anger? Bring God’s Word to every discussion, even if just by your tone and graciousness.  

How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings (Proverbs 1:22-23).  

God is many things, including patient and longsuffering. Are we paying attention to the signs of our times? The Scriptures are clear the last days would be difficult, marked by trials of all kinds — and while I can’t predict Christ’s return, I can say with certainty that we are closer to it than ever before.   

Yet, there is still time to act and to commit ourselves to God’s invitation. Are we making the most of our brief and fleeting season on earth?  

For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm (Proverbs 1:32-33).  

As someone who was verbally assaulted by mobs of rioters in Washington, D.C., this past summer, I can personally attest to the uneasiness of this season. Just spend a few minutes watching the evening news, and you’ll be convinced the end is near.  

Believers, though, need not fret or worry. Yes, we should take reasonable precautions, but our eternal salvation and souls are secure. We know how the story ends.  

I’d strongly encourage you to see the times through the lens of the Bible, especially the book of Proverbs. Read a chapter every morning, and you will see the world and our society in a different light by the end of the month.  

I want to end by sharing five questions that Dr. Adrian Rogers, a longtime pastor and former board member of this ministry, used to write on the inside page of his Bible. He said that whenever he was reading the Scriptures, he would use these to get more out of what he was reading by asking these five questions:  

  1. Is there a command to obey?  
  2. Is there a promise to claim?  
  3. Is there a sin to avoid?  
  4. Is there a lesson to learn?  
  5. Is there a new truth to carry with me? 

Aren’t those great? Whether you’re reading from Proverbs or any of the other 65 books of the Bible, lay those questions over the text and listen for God’s voice.  

Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family.

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