WISE LIVING FROM PROVERBS
Decision Making: Utilize God’s Resources—His word, His Spirit, His People
OPENER: Think about a time you’ve made a “gut” decision on something important. How’d it turn out? Did you substitute feelings for thinking? What made you think it would be a good thing to do? Whether it turned out good or bad, would you do it differently today?
Discuss: In your own word, sum up the idea of Fast Brain/Slow Brian decision-making.
Note: Psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman describes how our minds work in making decisions of all types…large and small. Our brains are not literally divided into these two parts…but for sake of illustration he calls the different ways our minds work “system 1 and system 2” Let’s just call it “Fast brain” “Slow brain.” Not fast as in good and slow as bad…but two different ways we “think” about life and decisions. We need our brains to work both ways…to be successful in life…but we can, at the wrong times, default to the “fast brain” (Remember the investor who invested in Ford)
INTRO DISCUSSION: A few types of decision errors
Discuss: Terry mentioned the Halo/Horn effect and the Availability Error. Sum these two up in your own words.
Note: Halo/horn effect—exaggerate the positive qualities of people they already like (or products) and exaggerate the negative qualities of those they don’t already like. Think of this political season; we see the error being made all the time. Availability error…is when details that come easiest to mind form the basis for making decisions or coming to conclusions. For example: “I know 10 people who were very ill with Covid” this is a pandemic. “I don’t know anyone personally who has been ill with Covid” this is all political.
Q1: There is a corresponding Proverb for most thinking errors, For example: Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Does this correspond to the Halo/horn effect or the Availability error?
Discuss: Share a time when you’ve been guilty of either the Halo/horn effect or the Availability error?
OBJECTIVE: Our objective for today, is to understand that to make wise decisions we have to humbly use all of God’s resources, His Word, His Spirit, and his people. We do use God’s resources because we all are prone to trust ourselves too much. Truth is, we are less likely to see errors in our own thinking, so we need others to help us make good decisions. If we don’t listen to and actually “hear” criticism of our thinking, actions and attitudes, we are less likely to make good decisions, we’re less likely to prosper.
LESSON DISCUSSION 1: Proper Biblical Perspective: Self Interest is Good.
Q1: Read the following statement made by Terry: We should want to do what is good for us, what will lead to thriving and prospering. The Bible, as a whole assumes, we want what is good for us. It then tries to convince us of what is actually good for us because we are easily fooled. For example, the entire book of Proverbs assumes that we want to be wise so that we can live better lives; it’s the fool that isn’t reading the book.
- How have you thought about “self-interest” as something positive or negative?
- Does this idea of self-interest, as presented in Terry’s sermon, change your perspective?
- What role does humility play in our own self-interest, and what does it look like? How can we embrace humility more fully?
Note: Put your confidence in God, live with faith and humility…if you want to have any hope of real success and happiness. Self-interest is good…and it should move me towards God and his wisdom. God is for you; remember what Terry said about Jesus being the braid of life (John 6), Phil.2, Ephesians 5, Mark 12:30, James 4:6. This is my (Jim’s) summery—when you walk with God and put Him first, you are looking to your own self-interest because he wants what is best for you. When done write, with humility, God is not opposed to that.
Lesson Discussion 2: Humility is the Key Wisdom
Q1: C.S. Lewis famously said that “Humility is not thinking less of yourself it is thinking of yourself less.”
- How would you sum this quote up in your own words? What was Lewis’ point?
Note: Humility is not trying to think you are bad, or dumb, or wicked, or not talented…it is being clear about who you are in relationship to God and to others. He alone is God…all the rest of us…are made by him for him. So, the really good woodworker who is told he is really good at woodworking…should respond with “Thank you” not… “Oh, I’m not that good” That’s not humility. Pride is not in our own self-interest—pride makes us prone to only operate in our “fast brain”. Pride makes us bad at decision making.
Lesson Discussion 3: Make Decisions with Humility
Make decisions with humility, and for your own good, utilize God’s resources: His Word, His Spirit, His People, to make good decisions.
*Take the next few minutes and discuss how your small group can help you use God’s resources in your own decision-making process. How can you avoid falling prone to the fallacies discussed earlier? What role does community play? How do the things we’ve talked about help us to hear criticism in a way that leads us to prosper?
Scripture used in Sermon:
Proverbs 14:12 CSB
There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.
John 6:35 CSB
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.
Philippians 2:1-11 CSB
If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.  Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,  who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.  Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man,  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.  For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth—  and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Ephesians 5:25 CSB
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her
Proverbs 22:4 CSB
Humility, the fear of the LORD, results in wealth, honor, and life.
Proverbs 13:20 CSB
The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 15:22 CSB
Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
James 4:6 CSB
But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.