Proverbs 4–The Forward Gaze

Proverbs 4:25 teaches us,

Let your eyes look directly forward,

and your gaze be straight before you.

Wisdom and righteousness are always forward looking. These twin attributes do not dwell on the past, for that leads to bitterness and regret. Right now is important, but only insofar as right now is the first movement toward the future. The future is just the present that hasn’t happened yet, and therefore, unlike the past, the future is something we can control and change. The present is a downpayment on the future.

The more I ponder it, the wise person doesn’t even dwell too much on the right now. True, wisdom learns to enjoy the moment, but we never have all the information we need right now. In the future we will have more information, and that is when we make more informed opinions and thoughts. The mind is always adjusting and changing with new data. The wise person will choose the future over the present. Fools, by contrast, throw the future away and only live in the moment. Wise people plan for the future, enjoy the present, and learn to let go of the past.

  1. Wise people prepare. Fool are never prepared.
  2. Wise people dream. Fools squander opportunities.
  3. Wise people watch trends to see where people and things are headed. Fools wish for yesteryear.
  4. Wise people keep options open. Fools shut doors.
  5. Wise people don’t burn bridges. Fools keep matches in their pockets.
  6. Wise people “might” burn boats. Fools are afraid of change.
  7. Wise people learn how to forget. Fools never learn how to move on.
  8. Wise people don’t hold grudges. Fools have scores to settle.
  9. Wise people don’t waste time on nostalgia. Fools build monuments to the glory days.
  10. Wisep people use the past (history) to inform the future, not to shape it. Fools use the past as a template for the future.

Don’t waste energy by dwelling on the past. The future is where the action is.

SOMEDAY . . .

I spent some time this morning pondering the biblical story of Caleb’s boldness in Joshua 14:6-15.  The essence of the story is that at eighty-five years of age, Caleb was chomping at the bit to claim the land that was promised to him by Moses forty-five years earlier.  He was not afraid of the giants, the Anakim, who occupied that land.  He knew he could take them because the Lord had promised him.

Verse 12 gives us a little of his gumption:

So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities.  It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.

Remember, that is an eighty-five year old man saying that.  Lest you think that is some kind of ‘well everyone was older in the Bible’ stuff, even the Bible makes a big deal here about how old Caleb is.

Someday, I"ll . . .
Someday, I”ll . . .

This time period in biblical history is hard to get a handle on, because things are fluid, and it is hard to reconcile Christian ethics with the warfare and genocide recorded in the conquest of Canaan.  However, that aside, four things jump out at me from Caleb’s story that are inspiring.

1.  Caleb never forgot what his goals were.  I can imagine that everyday for forty-five years he went to bed thinking, ‘Someday, I’ll take that land.’  There is probably something missing in our lives if we ever lose that feeling of, “Someday, I’ll ….”

2.  He was thinking of his children, grandchildren, and lineage.  He knew he’d never enjoy the land for long, but he wanted to secure it for the generations.  If only people in church, in business, on the streets, and in the government would make decisions based on what as best for the generations that come after us.

3.  He kind of liked it that the Anakim were in the land he wanted.  The Anakim were giants, and Caleb liked the challenge.  The bigger they are, the harder the fall.

4.  Even though he was strong-willed, he still submitted himself to his leadership for permission.  “Give me this,” he asked his old friend Joshua.  Joshua knew it really wasn’t his to give, because in God’s eyes it was already Caleb’s by promise.

It is tempting to draw an equal sign between Caleb’s desire to claim his promise of land with our spiritual inheritance of eternal life.  There is some level of truth there, but a more applicable truth is that Caleb is an encouragement to us to pursue our dreams, never give up on our goals, and to take responsibility for securing a better future for ourselves and our offspring no matter what our age is or what obstacles might be in our way.

I hope and pray that I have Caleb’s fire every day.