One Biblical place we can find them is the book of Proverbs. Wisdom is the theme of this book. Wisdom is skill—skill for living. It refers to the ability to function well in life, navigating the realities of life (such as relationships, values, and work) with God at the center (the fear of the Lord) and his instruction (the law, Scripture) guiding our steps. In this light I think we can regard wisdom as roughly equivalent to “church health” or “emotionally healthy spirituality.” Proverbs thus offers us Biblical footing for understanding and cultivating “health” in our inner man, our families, and our churches.
For example, would our lives and churches be healthier if we applied the skill expressed in the following proverbs?
- Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool (10:18).
- Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice (13:10).
- The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception (14:8).
- Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city (16:32).
- To answer before listening— that is folly and shame (18:13).
- A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (19:11 NIV).
This is just a sampling of dozens of proverbs that are related to healthy outlook and healthy relationships within the community of faith, whether that community was God’s old-covenant people or his church today.
Could unhealthy spirituality—in myself, in my family, in my church—be due in part to a neglect of Proverbs? God gave us this book as a manual of sorts for raising children and for learning to live as adults (see http://www.dts.edu/media/play/fundamentals-for-preaching-the-proverbs-bruce-waltke/). Have we been neglecting the manual? I wonder. Is it a staple of our children’s curriculum? Are parents teaching it to the next generation? Are our teenagers mining its riches? Are our church leaders well trained by it? Does it figure into your preaching? Is it a well-worn compass on your journey?