Eric Samuel Timm
Before we dig into Proverbs 4, let’s break the word down: “pro” and “verb”.
First, “pro”. To be pro is to be one of the best or to compete at the highest level. It’s like the main character in one of the greatest films of our time (it’s the best, I love it), Nacho Libre, when he says, “I want to go pro”. And there are a ton of my friends in this book that are pro. (God has gifted them all with talent, but they still did the work to develop that gift, including sacrifice, time, effort, and grit.)
However, “pro” could also mean to be for something. Examples are: I’m pro-hope, pro-Habs, pro-Swiss Chalet gravy. Let’s focus on this understanding for this devo.
Second, what is a verb? Here is the fancy definition:
“Verb /vərb/noun. A word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, happen.”
But to keep it simple, in a word, it’s action.
Now, let’s smash these together: “Pro-Verbs” means “For Action”. And so, what are the actions that God wants us to be for in Proverbs 4?
Before we begin, underline, highlight (digitally or on paper), or bedazzle all the verbs – all the action words this chapter. (If this gives you English class flash backs, take a deep breath, and forge on.) There are more than a few, but let’s focus on a couple for today.
First, the guy that we believe wrote this chapter (while being inspired by the Holy Spirit) was the wisest man ever, and he comes in hot in verse 1 by starting with “listen”. Listening is an action and how we do it is: In English, we spell it l-i-s-t-e-n. With these letters, we can spell another world: s-i-l-e-n-t, silent. In the world and in our lives, it’s hard to hear. It’s noisy. Then how we be for this action? By putting ourselves in a silent place between you and God. A place with no distractions and where you don’t even have to speak. After all, if we are the ones doing all the talking, how is it possible to hear what the God is saying? When Jesus connected with God through prayer, he was pro this verb, he was for silence (to listen). Don’t miss this wisdom in Proverbs 4:1. (We haven’t even made it past the first word of the first verse!)
For example, one thing we can do while being silent in prayer is to let God speak to us in terms of sin. When we talk, we might confess our sins of commission. These are things that we knew we shouldn’t have done but did. However, when God talks, he might tell us of our sins of omission: things we should have done but didn’t. (We learn of both kinds of sins in Scripture, from the leading of the Holy Spirit, and seeing how it was modeled in the life of Christ.)
Let’s do just one more verb, because I know you have stuff to do. In verses 5 and 7, I really like the word ‘get’. It means to go after, to seek, or to obtain. We use this word when we are in a rap battle (I would lose), on a sports field, doing a side hustle (at the expense of rest makes no sense btw), or shopping. Whatever we do when we desire something is to pursue it – to get it.
So, what are we to be for when we get? More clearly stated, what are we to pursue? What have you been pursuing so far? The next installment on a Netflix show? Money? Followers? Your next physical relationship? Proverbs 4 says the answer is wisdom.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.
In being for wisdom, the first thing we need to do is get wisdom. It’s the best thing. (But note that there will be a cost. For me, I have found that is has a lot of to do with my time. Wisdom is what we are to get and that takes up time.)
Today, try focusing on the things you should be doing that you have not been doing:
1. Be pro-silent, being silent so you can listen.
2. Be pro-wisdom, pursuing wisdom at a cost.
Breathe that in, just like this painting. Go for the right actions – be “pro” the right “verbs” – and you will walk in the right way!