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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.


You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
Proverbs 8:5

Prudence is to me a funny word. As a child, the word conjured up the thought of an old-maid spinster with pursed lips and an embittered heart, whacking a spanker across her gnarled hands while giving the evil eye to a naughty child. But as I’ve aged and matured, the word brings to my mind almost the direct opposite to my childish imaginings. My lovely mother personified prudence.

Webster’s Dictionary defines prudence as “careful good judgement that allows someone to avoid danger or risks”. Raised in the hills of east Tennessee during the Great Depression, my mother knew deep poverty. She learned frugality born of necessity and the dangers inherent in country life. The circumstances of her early years made her a cautious young woman who carefully weighed any risk.

As a young Christian, she learned that wisdom and prudence dwell together (Proverbs 8:12). She saw that the prudent heed reproof and correction (Proverbs 15:5). She believed that Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead (Proverbs 21:16).

As a child, I often thought my mother’s prudence was based in fear. But as I’ve gotten older, I see the protection of her prudence, the thoughtfulness of her decisions, the caution of her choices. Proverbs 13:16 says, Every prudent man acts out of knowledge. Proverbs 14:8 says that The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways. Proverbs 22:3 reads that A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Practicing prudence will require me to slow down….an admonition repeated daily to me by my mother. I purpose to slow my thinking so that I can seek God’s wisdom. I will slow my mouth to consider the effect of my words on others. By slowing my actions, I can better see danger and avoid it.

Lord, set my heart on gaining prudence.

Jill Hardin

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