Lessons from the Heart
Cut through the clutter
By Pastor James Franklin
One of the things I admire the most about the Bible is its amazing ability to “cut through the clutter” and go straight to the heart of an issue. The book of Proverbs excels in this function.
Some years ago a missionary suggested that I read one chapter of Proverbs per day. Our English Bible divides it into 31 chapters. He suggested that I read chapter 1 on the first of the month, chapter 15 on the fifteenth, chapter 30 on the thirtieth, and so forth.
He also recommended that I read Proverbs over an extended period of time, not just one time through but for at least several months. “Then go outside and start watching,” he said. “You’ll see it lived out before your eyes.”
In those days I was a young Air Force sergeant stationed in Germany. It was the first time I supervised people. Interestingly, a man from Bangladesh worked for me. Not only was he “foreign,” but he was also a devout Muslim. I had a lot to learn, and quickly.
Sure enough, the missionary was correct. The main purpose of Proverbs is the acquisition of wisdom: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly” (2:6-7, NKJV).
Proverbs didn’t teach me everything I needed to know at that time, but it certainly helped. If I misspoke, Proverbs 10:19 would come to mind: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking (or “absent”), but he who restrains his tongue is wise.”
If I was slack in my work, Proverbs 18:9 would remind me to do a whole-hearted and thorough job: “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.”
If I had trouble with authority (after all I was in the military), Proverbs 21:1 told me that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
I have had to learn these lessons over and over again.