The book of Proverbs in the Bible was written to give you godly wisdom, instruction, and insight, and to help you learn discipline, right behavior, and how to do what is right and just in life (Proverbs 1:1-3).
However, if you’ve experienced a disconnection of what a proverb is saying and how to walk it out in a practical way, you’re not alone.
Below is a look at 10 biblical proverbs and how to apply them to modern day life.
1. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” (Proverbs 3:5)
Have you ever been in a situation where you believe God is asking too much of you? Something difficult like forgiving a person who has hurt you and isn’t even sorry, or honoring your parents who weren’t there for you, or loving your spouse who isn’t meeting your expectations?
Instead of looking at your circumstances as the exception, seek to follow His ways, trust His faithfulness to guide you in the right direction, believing He’ll protect and take care of you in the situation. And have confidence that by following God’s leading, your life will be enriched.
Psalm 18:30 assures you that, “As for God, His way is perfect; The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.”
2. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27)
Do you often think of doing something good for someone but then talk yourself out of it or let others change your mind? Maybe it’s an act of generosity, a kind word, or a way to help or serve another person.
If so, you may be withholding good from those around you.
When faced with a desire to give, resist the temptation to hold back your generosity and choose to be like God who does not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).
Additionally, Scripture encourages you to, “Give, and it will be given to you. A Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).
Realize your reluctance to give to others may be holding back what others want to give to you. Make your mind up to be a giver when you have the ability to do so.
3. “An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies” (Proverbs 12:17)
Lately, there is much discussion on being an honest witness. Proverbs reminds us how important it is to be truthful in speaking about others, impressing the value of telling the truth.
Have you ever been tempted to lie because you’re scared of the consequences of being honest? Or have you at times told partial truths because it benefited you? If so, keep in mind, “An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies” (Proverbs 14:5).
In today’s culture, the importance of telling the truth is running low. Lying and pointing fingers at each other is at an all time high. Recognize God is serious about your being truthful in what you say about others, as Exodus 20:16 states, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
4. “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3)
Have you ever said thoughtless, careless words you wish you could take back? Words you said under stress or in a heated moment that you deeply regret?
If so, then you know the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not true. Words can cause irreparable damage to relationships, cause much heartache and pain, and last a lifetime.
In these days of “say whatever is on your mind,” ask God to set a guard over your mouth and keep a watch over the door of your lips (Psalm 141:3).
Make a decision to choose your words carefully, knowing they have lasting power. As James 1:19 directs, “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
5. “A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great” (Proverbs 18:16)
In a culture where individuals are fighting for the spotlight and running over others to achieve their dreams, it can be overwhelming, disheartening, and tiring climbing the ladder of success.
Instead, Scripture encourages you to trust God to open doors for you through the gifts and talents He’s given you. Believe Him to accomplish His purposes and will in your life.
So rather than putting all your efforts in worldly achievements, recognition, and rewards that won’t last, 1 Corinthians 9:25 urges you to set your goal to pursue the“crown that will last forever.”
Likewise Matthew 6:20 directs you to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and pests can’t destroy, and thieves can’t break in and steal.”
As Psalm 37:4 encourages you, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Instead of following the world’s formula for success, put your confidence in God to make a way for you and to give you favor.
6. “Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and He will avenge you” (Proverbs 20:22)
When wronged in life, it’s natural to feel like you want to pay back the person or group who hurt you. But God urges, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written; ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
Sadly though, more and more headlines are filled with students, co-workers, spouses, and more carrying out their own revenge.
But Scripture urges to, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
Rather than seek your own retaliation in situations, believe God to one day take care of every injustice, knowing He exercises justice and righteousness on the earth (Jeremiah 9:24).
7. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6)
If you believe that you need to let your children figure things out for themselves in life, without your leading or input, you’re setting your kids up for a lifetime of confusion.
If you don’t teach them the way to go, there are plenty of people in the world looking to influence and lead your kids astray.
What you teach your children growing up will impact them for the rest of their lives. Knowing this, God urges you to train your children in His ways for their good, and for your good too. Proverbs 23:24 explains how: “The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.”
If you are faithful to teach your children about God, even if they turn away from Him when they grow up, God assures they will not forget what you have taught them.
8. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 23:17)
It’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends, admiring and looking to celebrities as your role model and inspiration.
However, it’s good to take a look at their lifestyle to see what types of philosophies you might be letting inspire you. When in doubt of what your modern day hero might be espousing, look to Scripture to see what God has to say about an activity or philosophy they are promoting.
Titus 2:12 urges you “to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions,” choosing rather to practice self-control, and to live upright and godly in the world.
Make God’s Word your leading influencer in life rather than the ever-changing philosophies of the world.
9. “Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully” (Proverbs 28:5)
If you don’t understand how people can do the evil things occurring in the world today, Scripture says it’s because their understanding of truth is distorted.
Whereas you as a Christian have the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you, John 14:17 explains how the world doesn’t know Him.
So because they don’t know him, Scripture describes how, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Knowing what is right comes through knowing God and having His Spirit live within you to reveal His truth. 1 John 2:27 explains that the Holy Spirit living within you teaches you what is true.
So instead of criticizing individuals for not understanding how to choose rightly, share the Gospel with them and pray for them to come into a relationship with God, where their hearts and minds can be transformed to know what is true.
10. “Whoever leads the upright along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance” (Proverbs 28:10)
Have you ever had someone try to persuade, push, or belittle you into participating in questionable activities? Sometimes individuals may ridicule your standards or make fun of your choices to persuade you to join in.
However, Proverbs 12:26 states, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Take into consideration that some may want you to become involved, just so they’ll feel better about their own choices. Like the saying goes “Misery loves company.”
“Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come” (Luke 17:1).
Also, consider how it might be the enemy working through them to try to rob you of good things that God has planned for your life. 1 John 3:7 cautions to not let anyone lead you astray.
Additionally, prayerfully consider how you’re influencing your friends. Ask God to help you in humility to value others above yourself (Philippians 2:3), looking out for their best interest, as well as your own (Philippians 2:4).