In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg defines habits as actions we perform—all day, every day—with little or no conscious thought. We look at our phone as soon as we hear it ding. We make that afternoon cup of coffee when our eyelids begin to droop. We go for a walk as soon as we get home from work. Of course, habits can be healthy or harmful.
The good news is that bad habits can be broken—especially with the power of the Holy Spirit. The book of Proverbs is an excellent source of support as we seek to identify and evaluate our own habitual behavior. As a series of individual statements of wisdom, Proverbs speaks truth into everyday life situations.
Today’s passage begins and ends by highlighting the role of longing in human motivation. Verse 12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” We make decisions because we want things. If we want to lose weight, we have a number on the scale or a healthy image in mind. That goal changes our behaviors. We desire a certain outcome—whether we are conscious of it or not—so we make choices that will move us toward that goal.
The verses in the middle play out the difference between wise choices and foolish choices. They follow the common proverbial pattern of Hebrew parallelism—with the second statement of each Proverb providing a contrast to the first. Here, the case is repeatedly made that the wise person will value good teaching and instruction. But this is not just knowledge for knowledge’s sake. This is knowledge that produces action and turns into discipline (v. 18). We love God with all our strength when we make wise choices—small and large— that move us closer to Christlikeness.
If our goal is to love God well, how does that goal influence our daily choices? What are your habits? Do you need to apply wisdom to changing any?
Pray with Us: God, thank You for the wealth of wisdom given to us in Your book of Proverbs. Steeped in Your Word, we can love You with understanding and “act with knowledge” (Prov. 13:16). Our hearts overflow with gratitude!