Wise Waiting


If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Proverbs Chapter 14.
We are working our way through the book of Proverbs and at this point in our study we are exploring chapters 10-29 by collecting individual proverbs that repeat particular themes.
We have looked at the theme of
wise speech,
wise friendships
and now we turn to a very important theme of wise waiting.
We turn to the reoccurring theme of wisdom sustained through patient, careful, slow, waiting on the Lord.
Our starting place will be chapter 14 beginning with verse 15.
Proverbs 14:15–17 ESV
15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. 16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. 17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.
Lets Pray
We have all heard it said or have said it ourselves, “patience is a virtue”
Perhaps you have heard it said jokingly, “don’t pray for patience because God will give you opportunities to be patient.”
We jest about it because we can all relate to it.
We don’t want to be put into circumstances where patience is required.
We live in a fast pace world.
Time is money.
Messages are instant.
Food is fast.
Entertainment is constant.
All of this and more makes us struggle with patience.
We struggle with a slightly longer than average line at the grocery store.
We struggle with a longer timeline for the life we wanted.
We struggle with prolonged singleness,
with a prolonged season in a job,
We struggle with the cycle of sinful behaviors in someone else and/or with our selves.
We struggle with prolonged grief… with a darkness that will not lift.
So much of life requires not just wisdom attained, but a wisdom sustained,
a wisdom of waiting,
a wisdom of patient, careful, one step in front of the other progress.
Nothing about the Christian life is necessarily fast.
In fact our sanctification and growth is painfully slow.
Its so slow that you cannot even see the progress unless you look backwards to the person you once were years ago.
Strong faith is not a flash in the pan kind of faith.
Strong Faith is more like a tree that grows its roots into the soil by streams of water over time
so slow is its movement that it is almost imperceptible…, but when the storm comes you discover just how deep the roots go.
I want us consider this theme of wisdom In proverbs.
I want us to think through the many ways in which patience, and carefulness, and slowness, and waiting is required for our flourishing in the Christian life.
Look back to verse 15.
Proverbs 14:15 ESV
The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
This text suggests that we should be slow and careful both in our believing things and in our actually doing things.
the “simple” believe everything…, by contrast then, the wise must think critically and carefully about what they believe.

Truth #1 Wisdom Takes Time to Believe What is True

What you believe matters.
What you believe about God matters.
What you believe about Scripture, about people, about purpose in life… it all matters.
What you believe about heaven and hell and who goes where matters.
One of the faults of a fool is that he is too quick to believe any testimony he hears.
He is too busy to stop and critically think.
He is too consumed with his life to pause and give careful thought to what he is believing.
That is the case for many people.
Many people are convicitonless…, they have no deep rooted, carefully thought through, understanding of the world,
They have only very shallow thoughts regarding the most ultimate things like God, morality, life, and death.
They have been told they are good people.
They have compared themselves with a lot of bad people.
thus they have come to believe that they will be eternally “fine” in the face of a God if there is one.
Many people in this position do not hold this position because they have thought about it deeply,
but because they haven’t thought about it much at all. They have not taken the time necessary to ask life’s hardest questions.
It is important to remember that we live in a world of falsehoods.
We are surrounded by people, and by spiritual forces who propagate non-truths day in and day out.
Not only are we surrounded by false world views, and false opinions, and false perspectives, our sin nature actually gravitates to the falsehoods.
We more naturally suppress truth then embrace truth.
Romans 1:18 ESV
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
This is our proclivity and if we know that, then that means there should always be a slowness and a care that we take when we assume something to be true simply because we want it to be true.
We should take the time to think through situations, accusations, claims, Biblical texts.
The preacher on the t.v. holding a Bible may be a false teacher.
That person who says they are a Christian, may not know what that actually means.
That girl or guy who says they are a Christian on the first date, may only be using that language because they know thats what you want to hear.
That bit of gossip you heard, or that conversation that made it back to you may not contain the full story from all the perspectives you would need to understand the situation.
Wisdom - stops collects all the information, seeks understanding, compares what they are hearing with the word of God, and then they embrace truth.
We should be slow or at least humble when we make assumptions or take hard positions on any issue or person, especially before we have taken the time to think deeply about it.
The simple believes everything,
but the wise person takes the time to make sure they are believing only true things.
Wisdom simply gives careful thought to its beliefs and to its choices.

Truth #2 Wisdom Takes Time to Make Decisions Carefully and Communally

Proverbs 14:16 ESV
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
There is a way to live that is reckless and careless.
There is a way to live that is wise and cautious.
Every day we are faced with decisions both small and big.
Perhaps its a matter of who to date, who to marry, where to live, where to work, or what to buy.
This proverb seems to suggest that the wise approach again is a careful approach
A careful approach recognizes the evil within and at every point makes decisions based on a continual turning away from that evil.
The reckless person doesn’t stop to weigh their own motives.
The careless person doesn’t stop to ask what’s best for the kingdom of God Or for others.
The fool lets his or her desires be the loudest influence even before they have the facts
look at Proverbs 19:2.
Proverbs 19:2 ESV
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
It is our cravings, our wants, our desires, that cause us to make haste with our feet even though the actual facts of a situation are telling us something different.
Desire even good desires without knowledge are not good to act upon with haste.
Desires that have wickedness at their root are even worse to act upon with haste.
whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
One of the most important ways to slow down and walk wisely in the moment of big decisions is to bring others into the decision making process.
Proverbs 11:14 ESV
14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 24:6 ESV
for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
When you stop to seek the counsel of other Christians in your life,
you automatically slow the decision making process down and you protect yourself against the foolishness you might have walked in.
Bring wise Christian friends in on your decisions.
Bring them in your decision to date someone or to marry someone.
Bring them in on a career move or a big purchase.
Bring them in on a relational conflict where you need outside and objective eyes.
Making decisions communally necessarily slows things down and gives wisdom a chance.
But don’t just do slow down and make decisions communally with other Christians, do so in patient communion with God himself.
Even Jesus took time to intentionally walk with the Father before big transitions in his life on Earth.
Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before entering into his public ministry at the age of 30.
Jesus departed to the wilderness for an all night time of prayer before selecting the disciples.
Jesus got alone with the Father for intense prayer the night he was to be betrayed and arrested.
Jesus’ whole life was a picture of patient and wise steps according to the Father’s perfect timing and will.
Jesus had no sin in him to cause his hasty decisions, or actions to be sinful…,
how much more should we take the time to carefully and communally ponder our steps as those who struggle with our sin nature.
Truth #1 Wisdom Takes Time To Believe What is True
Truth #2 Wisdom Takes Time to Make Decisions Carefully and Communally
jump back to chapter 14:17
Proverbs 14:17 ESV
17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.

Truth #3 Wisdom is Slow to React Emotionally

There is nothing that exposes the sin within quite like an uncontrolled temper.
This is not a new struggle.
Its a dominant theme in proverbs.
Proverbs 14:29–30 ESV
29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. 30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Proverbs 15:18 ESV
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Proverbs 16:31–32 ESV
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. 32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Proverbs 19:11 ESV
11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Beware of being reactionary.
our first reaction is not normally our best reaction.
If you want to walk wisely, make wise decisions, and use wise words… you have to especially put into check your propensity to get angry.
These proverbs say that when you are slow to anger you:
have great understanding
you have a tranquil heart
You give life to the flesh and
You quiet contention
On the flip side, your lack of control over your emotions causes you to:
Act foolishly
and stir up strife.
I particularly love verse 32.
Proverbs 16:32 ESV
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
To be overcome with anger is not a sign of strength according to this proverb.
Rather it is actually a sign of weakness.
True strength…, true mightyness…,
is the ability to recognize the anger within for what it is, identify what’s causing it, rehearse what is true your own mind, and then to respond calmly and wisely despite the rage within.
Better is he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city…
In other words, this is the kind of prestige, this is the kind of leadership, this is the kind of rule, that really matters in the kingdom of God…
ITs not the ability to lead a kingdom, a government, or a church… it is first and foremost the ability to lead yourself…, and to control the emotional reaction (as real as it may feel)…, so as to exalt wisdom and not folly.
Most of the time our anger is not righteous Anyway.
We get mad because someone else fails to meet our expectations as if we are their god, and as if we have never failed to meet any one’s expectations
We get mad when we are not treated as we think we deserve to be treated.
We get mad when we get embarrassed, when our pride is jeopardized, and when our idols are threatened.
Sometimes and only sometimes our anger is justified… it is a righteous indignation…, but even then there is a way to be angry but not to sin.
There is a way to be angry, and to control its expression in only Christ-honoring truth-speaking gentleness.
Wisdom is slow to react emotionally…, and really as we saw a couple weeks ago its slow to speak at all.
Proverbs 15:28 ESV
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Proverbs 18:13 ESV
13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Proverbs 18:2 ESV
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Wisdom waits…
It waits to have all the information.
It waits to have all the understanding.
It waits for the right timing.
It waits to see if anything needs to be said at all.
It waits so that it might ponder how to answer.
Wisdom is Slow to React
and lastly And perhaps the most difficult aspect of wisdom in this sermon.

Truth #4 Wisdom Patiently Awaits God’s Plan

Proverbs 20:21 ESV
An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.
If there is a good thing like an inheritance that must be waited upon.
To fight and claw and force that inheritance to come early would be to forfeit that blessing in the end.
This is true for things like an inheritance…, but this is true for many things.
To actively, frantically, impatiently, try to force some good blessing of God to happen…, is often times to invite difficulty rather than blessing.
Strong desire makes you try to rush things,
cut corners,
make compromises,
and thus invite disaster rather than blessing.
If you are ignoring God’s word and good counsel to secure what you think to be a blessing of God…, it is not a blessing of God you will secure.
Anything worth having is worth waiting and trusting a sovereign God for.
That doesn’t mean we do nothing.
It just means we do what God has commanded in a patient and trusting way.
Proverbs 21:5 ESV
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
According to this proverb, patient wisdom is not passive.
The decision is not between passivity and activity.
Patient wisdom is the choice between diligence and hastyness.
You can be very diligently faithful to what God has commanded of you in a patient way without being unnecessarily hasty.
Consider proverbs 25:15.
Proverbs 25:15 ESV
15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
In this example, the goal is persuasion of a King or a government official.
Perhaps in your case, its a boss, a child, or even a spouse.
We are faced with a choice… try to force their hand with the strongest of arguments, emotional displays of frustration, and ultimatums… or we can shift them with soft persistent persuasion over time.
If you force your timeline on a king, or on a spouse, it will never happen… You may actually do damage rather than good,
but patience and gentleness and faithfulness with a tranquil spirit in the long run will be a strong enough argument to break a bone…
Your patience itself and your trust in God will only increase the power of your gentle words.
We patiently wait for God’s will To manifest both here and now and fully and finally.
Proverbs 20:22 ESV
22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
In this proverb, we are encouraged not to wait for a particular blessing, but for a particular justice.
All of us will have real evil done to us in our lives.
We will be betrayed, lied to, slandered, or ignored.
And we will have a choice.
Repay evil with evil… or wait for the Lord to work justice on our behalf whether that be in this life or in the next.
We of all people do not have to be the ones to seek retribution when we are wronged.
We serve a God who took the retribution for our sins on the cross of Christ…,
and who will one day execute justice on every single person who refuses to have their sins covered by the blood of Jesus.
Vengance is not ours.., rather we wait for it patiently.
What makes this kind of patient diligence possible is a genuine faith that God is sovereign over our plans And that he is carrying all of history toward a particular purpose.
He is in total control over every detail.
Not only is he in control,
but his plans are in fact better than my plans even when I can’t see it Or understand it.
True wisdom is knowing this, that God is Sovereign, and by faith resting in this.
Proverbs 16:1–3 ESV
The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
One of the reasons you should be glad that it is the Lord who establishes our plans according to verse 2 is that your ways are pure in your own eyes…, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
We often think our motives are pure.
We often think our desires are right.
We often don’t recognize the depths of the idolatries in our own hearts.
Often we are praying and longing for God to do something in our lives,\
but its actually God’s kindness that he does not give us what we want.…
Though we thought we wanted it from our perspective…,
if we could see our lives and our own hearts from the perspective of God we might not let us have those plans either.
The best we can do as finite, limited, sin-struggers is to commit our work to the Lord.… and watch for the Lord to establish his plans.
In other words, we make serving him our priority,
and we relieve ourselves of needing to control what happens.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 19:21 ESV
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
plans are not bad.
We should make them.
We should be ambitious for the glory of the Lord,
We should be diligent in our pursuit of the glory of the Lord,
Laziness is an abomination according to Proverbs…
but in the end our diligence must in fact be for the glory of the Lord, for he alone establishes steps…,
and his purpose alone will stand forever and ever.
We plan patiently waiting for God to accomplish his plans.
I feel myself living in this tension continuously.
I want our church to grow in godliness.
I want our church to grow numerically.
I want more elders and deacons who are passionate for their areas of service and pouring out their lives for our church and community.
I want our church to train up a generation of pastors, and missionaries, and disciple-makers who will change the church landscape of New Orleans and South Louisiana.
Many are the plans in the mind of this man…, but the purpose of the Lord will stand…
My role is to pray, to preach this word every week, and to be a faithful to the Scriptures as I can be constantly questioning my own motives and idolatries… constantly entrusting God’s mission to God himself.
I work hard and wait patiently…
This is the Christian ministry.
This is the Christian life.
The Gospel itself is an invitation to come and wait.
God told Eve, your offspring will crush the head of the serpent… just wait.
To Abraham, he said, “I will make you a great nation… just wait.”
To Joseph, he said, “Your brothers will bow to you…, just wait.”
To Moses, he said, “I will lead these people into a promised land…, just wait.”
To David, “I’ll send a King to reign forever…, just wait.”
To Isaiah, he said “a child is born… the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace, of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom…. Just wait.
To Jeremiah, “Behold the days are coming, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…. I will be their God and they shall be my people…. I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more… just wait.
To Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”…. Just wait.
Jesus said, “See we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him, and kill him….. but Just wait….. On the third day he will rise again.”
For forty days Jesus taught the disciples about the kingdom of God, and the mission he was sending them on, but to wait for the coming of the Spirit to empower their words and mission.
After forty days, Jesus ascended into heaven…, and the angels appeared in the sky and said get to work…, he will come back again on the clouds of heaven just as he ascended… just wait.
This is the season we live in Christian… between Christ’s first coming and second coming…, between the already and the not yet… we live and work and sacrifice and grieve and rejoice and minister in this broken world of waiting until he returns to make this world new and we see Jesus face to face.
The apostle Paul says our present suffering is not worthy of comparison to the glory that will be revealed to us… just wait.…
Romans 8:19–25 ESV
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
This wisdom…. Its the faith to patiently await the purposes and plans of God.
Though we are often counseled not to…. Lets pray for patience.
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