“Speaking without thinking is like shooting without taking aim.” –Spanish Proverb
Proverbs are expressions of some experience acknowledged to be true. Every culture has some short pithy sayings. They are handed down from one generation to the next. In the Old Testament, a composition of wise sayings can be found in the book called Proverbs. These unique proverbs draw comparisons between the physical and spiritual realm. They point the reader to righteousness and godliness.
Yet, not all proverbs repeated by some Christians can be found in the Bible. Here are a few that I have heard carelessly quoted as scripture:
1. A fool and his money are soon parted.
2. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
3. All that glitters is not gold.
4. Beauty is skin deep.
5. Beggars can not be choosers.
6. Charity begins at home.
7. Cleanliness is next to godliness.
8. Fools step in where angels fear to tread.
9. God helps those who help themselves.
10. He who laughs last, laughs best.
11. Neither a borrower or lender be.
12. Spare the rod and spoil the child.
In 1888, David Dungan wrote, “There is no essential difference between the study of the Scriptures and the study of any other subject, respecting the mental outlay necessary to success. An occasional hour or lesson may accomplish something toward learning, but not much. … So we find in the efforts essential to a knowledge of the word of God, that, like obtaining knowledge of other things, the mind must be employed intently and continuously. There can be no substitute for mental industry. We must apply the mind and heart, or not know the things of God.”/1 This statement is echoed in our own twenty-first century, “So let us study carefully the teaching of God’s word. Everyone of us should be willing to examine his own beliefs in the light of scripture in the hope of bringing them as close as possible into harmony with God’s will. Let us never ridicule or treat lightly the beliefs of another; but let us never take lightly what we believe ourselves.”/2
Christian, before we speak, let us think. Before we think, let us read (Proverbs 10:32; James 1:19-27). Christian, are you up for the task?
“Lord, speak to me that I may speak, in living echoes of thy tone.” –Frances Havergal
1/ David Roberts Dungan, Hermeneutics (Cincinnati: The Christian Standard Publishing Co., 1888), 16.
2/ Stafford North, Handbook on Church Doctrines (Edmond, OK: Landmark Books, 2004), 11.