DEVELOPING THE VIRTUE OF PRUDENCE.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit” (Proverbs 14:8).
As we journey in this new year God has given us the opportunity to come into, there is need to consider the things we need to do differently this year in order to obtain a better result and a more judicious use of our time and resources than was the case in past years. It is time to start afresh for those who may have encountered setbacks in the past.
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We all hope to achieve success at our endeavors this year and fully employ our inherent potentials to the best use, but one thing that can enable us have these hopes realized is our character; the virtues of our life. While we may have a lot of work to do at learning a trade, planning and executing business projects, working a job, etc, we sure have a greater work to do on ourselves. We have a job to detect our character deficiencies and work at developing virtues that will enhance our success at any endeavors we engage in this year. A key virtue we must work at developing is prudence.
The Wikimedia English Dictionary (Wiktionary) defines prudence as the quality or state of being prudent; wisdom in the way of caution and provision; discretion; carefulness; hence, also, economy; frugality. Prudence therefore, is the virtue of a man or woman who has a good understanding of the affairs of life and shows discretion in his or her conduct. It is a careful, wise discernment; the avoidance of rash behaviour or speech. Prudence is also the good management of talents and resources and the showing of tact and wisdom in relationships with other people. Thus, a prudent man or woman values wisdom and seeks knowledge. Prudence finds applicability in all aspects of life and must be a virtue for us to develop by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we look into scripture we shall discover how this important can be developed.
A foremost lesson on prudence that Jesus Christ taught His disciples and followers is recorded in Luke 14:28-32. Our Lord Jesus Christ speaking on the necessity of counting the cost of being His disciple before doing so, gave an example of a man who sets about building a tower. That man has to be prudent if he will successfully complete the building. He must know what building a tower entails; the architectural design, the land survey, the quantity survey, the labour cost and all associated costs before starting the project. The importance of careful planning cannot be overstated because failure at it will translate to failure of the project. The uncompleted buildings and structures that litter our landscape are majorly due to lack of proper planning and poor management of execution, and this is due to a deficiency of prudence on the part of owners and managers of such projects. This example our Lord Jesus Christ points us to in Luke 14:28-32, is not unfamiliar to us.
Most times, we do not consider issues of our projects closely and completely before we engage in them. Beyond the example of a tower building, it may be about our starting a business, deciding on a career, taking up a job, getting married, a plethora of other projects we will be embarking on this year, prudence manifesting in a careful gathering of information to boost our knowledge of the issues of our projects, and a wise planning and execution of our activities, is essential for success. We must not make rash decisions only to regret it after a while. It is wise to plan within your means and trust God for expansion in due course.
We need prudence to act with discretion or else we will experience setbacks, frustrations and failures in our endeavors. Discretion is necessary to detect fraudulent avenues of wealth creation. Some business deals may appear so attractive and juicy, but only the prudent will investigate them thoroughly to detect gray areas and pitfalls of such deals. I can remember the bitter experience of many people who lost hundreds of thousands and millions of naira on MMM, the ponzi scheme that was trending business about two years ago. Too many people got trapped for their lack of prudence and hence experienced huge financial losses. When we lack prudence, we find ourselves jump into business, job or career, because some people are talking about how much profits they are raking in such business or profession.
In our excitement we never take into consideration our capacity to excel in such endeavors or otherwise. This is also the way many couples enter into marriage without a wise discernment of who they are getting married to. The increasing statistics of divorce is as a result of lack of prudence in getting a good understanding of marriage by couples. Friends, we need prudence, a sitting down to count the cost of our decisions before carrying them out. Proverbs 14:15 says, “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going”. Let us be prudent henceforth.
We need prudence to have good social relationships. There is a great need for prudence in our behaviour as this has an impact on other people and affect their assessment of us. Prudence in our speech and conduct is critical. Prudence will keep us from getting into trouble with our words. We will speak wisely and not rashly and unadvicedly. Prudence says “Keep Silence” in the heat of an angry exchange with your friend, spouse, colleague, neighbors, etc. You may feel at such times that you have to vent your frustration and disgust in a conflict situation with other people, but prudence will help you pick your words or remain altogether silent. It is always advisable to refrain from speaking in particular situations as our words may be held as evidence against us in the court of law. Proverbs 10:19 tells us “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise”. This is why king David says in Psalms 39:1′ “I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me”. Friends, you must also realize that Satan, demonic powers, occultic and witchcraft powers get people into bondage and afflict them because of imprudence in their speech and conduct. Let us be prudent henceforth and speak the right words. Knowing when to shut up is prudence!
Avoiding wastefulness is another benefit of prudence. A great area of our need of prudence is financial management. A man could get a million naira today but end up with less than a thousand naira tomorrow. Another man can turn a thousand naira today to a million naira tomorrow. The latter must be the prudent of them. There are many men and women who earn a fat salary or make huge profit at the beginning of the month, but who are always broke before the end of the month. It must be a lack of prudence in financial management that causes this problem. The wisdom to know when to expend and when to invest, what to spend on or invest in, is crucial and is enabled by self control, a way of prudence.
Extravagance and wastefulness are obvious signs of imprudence. Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us a great lesson of prudence in resource management with the miracle of feeding four thousand people with seven loaves of bread a few fishes as recorded in Matthew 15:32-37. Following the miraculous multiplication of the loaves of bread and fishes that became sufficient for the four thousand men and women to eat satisfactorily, there were leftovers of the bread and fishes. We see in Matthew 15:37 that Jesus Christ instructed the people to pick up the leftovers into baskets, and seven baskets full of the leftovers were gathered. Why was it important to pick up the leftover food instead of allowing them spoil? It was to demonstrate how we must manage the blessings and provisions God sends us. This is a great lesson on our need to make savings today for tomorrow’s use.
How do you utilize the blessings of God in your life? Is it all expenditure and no savings nor investment? Let us be prudent in financial/ resource management henceforth.
Friends, having discovered the great importance of prudence, we need to take these lessons to heart and ask God to help us possess this great virtue of prudence. Blessed is the man who is married to a prudent wife., and the woman who is married to a prudent husband! Proverbs 19:14 tells us “Houses and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD”. We must realize that only God can enable us develop the virtue of prudence and we need to seek Him. All virtues are in God, who is the embodiment of all goodness, and we can receive from Him all that we need when we ask. Prudence is a virtue derived from self control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We need the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives to be really prudent. It is the Holy Spirit that works in our lives, checking the excesses and deficiency of our character and enabling us to have discernment, wisdom, tact and carefulness in our every day dealings. We need to take out some time to seek God’s direction for our lives if we will have success in our endeavors.
King David knew how much God’s direction meant for his success, hence he always sought to hear God’s direction on any matter of his life (1 Samuel 30:6-9). It is only God that can give us discernment on the entire issues of our life and we cannot afford to live without him.
You must be born again if you shall have God help you develop prudence in your life. Realize your sins have separated you from God, therefore repent of all sins now and pray with a repentant heart asking God’s forgiveness and salvation of your soul through Jesus Christ. As you get reconciled to God, you can then relate with Him as your father, therefore ask Him to help you develop prudence in your life and also depend on Him, seeking His guide in all you do this year.
Will you turn to Christ now?
“Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” If you have this prayer with the whole of your heart, then be assured God has heard you and saved you. You now need to seek out a church around you where you will get to know God more and live the new life you have received. God bless you.
May God help you and may you be prudent and successful this year in Jesus Christ name. Amen.
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