Have you ever been in a situation where you do or say something and after you say, “I should have thought about this more or asked for advice before I did that”? Or this is my favorite one, “I should have thought before I spoke.” Am I the only one that has been in this situation? No? Okay good.
Proverbs 23 screams, “Think before you speak!” and, “Gain wisdom before you follow through!” So, if you ever needed confirmation about seeking wisdom before moving forward or having that serious conversation with a friend, spouse, or co-worker, here it is!
Wisdom avoids pitfalls. and it also comes with discernment. As you can see in Proverbs 23, discernment is vital in order to avoid falling into pitfalls.
“When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you…” Proverbs 23:1
Take note of the word observe followed by the word carefully. These words beg for discernment. In this example it is talking about dining with those who are in power. Solomon is telling us to use discernment when dining with those who are in power, whether it is a boss in your current job or a new job. Use discernment.
The food which is set before the table is the food of delicacies. Solomon is telling us to not be consumed with the luxurious environment and to not be vulnerable enough to be deceived into what’s really going on. It may be a great dinner you are having with a current boss or a potential boss, but don’t leave your wisdom and discernment at the door. Enjoy yourself, but don’t let your guard down. There may be much more to this luxurious dinner than the eyes can see.
“Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.” Proverbs 23:4
In this setting of luxuriousness, you may be called to work even more than you thought to gain wealth. The money may be right, but is it worth it? That’s why discernment and wisdom are vital. Not only should you consider if it’s worth it, but more importantly, is it worth your soul? You may be asked to do something that goes against your convictions. Verse 4 tells us to be discerning enough to desist…be discerning enough to stop. Know your limits and know when enough is enough. In other words, you know better, so don’t be caught up in luxuries and persuasive offers.
It is the same thing with the verses after this. In verses 5-8, Solomon is calling for the same wisdom and discernment. But the person you’re up against is one that is intentionally evil. Verse 8 says that “you will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten.” You will regret is what it’s saying, so you use discernment. Know the person you’re up against. Know his or her motives. Verse 7 says, “For he is inwardly calculating.”
Verses 19-28 tells us how to avoid these pitfalls. In short, Solomon is exhorting to “buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding” and “be wise, and direct your heart in the way” (v. 19). You’re may be asking, “what benefit is it to me?” I’m glad you asked.
There will be times where you will be in situations as described in Proverbs 23. There will be times where you will be tempted to buy into luxurious living and surround yourself around powerful people. I’m not saying don’t. But I am saying don’t go into this without wisdom and discernment. Without it, you are sure to fall into pitfalls. So, “be not among drunkards, or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty and slumber will clothe them with rags” (v. 21). Know when to leave and know when to say no because at the end of the day, is it worth your soul?