Summary: Topical Sermon on Prudence

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A Portrait of Prudence

Proverbs 1:4

33-year-old Larry Walters was an ordinary guy who one day decided he wanted to see his neighborhood from a new perspective. He went down to the local army surplus store in a suburb of Los Angeles CA one morning and bought 45 used weather balloons. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, and persuaded several of his friends to tie the helium-filled balloons to the lawn chair. He took along a six-pack of beer, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land.

Mr. Walters assumed the weather balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, and give him a bird’s eye view. He was caught off guard when the chair soared more than 11,000 feet into the sky--smack into the middle of the air traffic pattern at Los Angeles International Airport. Too frightened to shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport to shut down its runways for much of the afternoon, causing long delays in flights from across the country. They had to send a military helicopter to rescue Larry, who was, by that time, ready to come back to earth. Soon after he was safely grounded and arrested by the police, reporters asked him three questions:

"Were you scared, Mr. Walters?"


"Would you do it again, Mr. Walters?"


"Why did you do it, Mr. Walters?"

"Because," Larry Walters replied, "you can’t just sit there."

You probably think that Larry Walters was not the sharpest guy in his neighborhood. But you also have to admit that it took some ingenuity just to think up this scheme. It took some thinking, along with a little too much time on his hands, to plan his journey to the sky. The problem was, he didn’t think enough. He did not consider all of the consequences of his actions. Larry Walters failed to exercise a virtue known in the book of Proverbs as prudence.

Prudence may not be a word you use too often. You might instead talk about “common sense; thinking things through.” One dictionary defines “prudence” as “the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; shrewdness in the management of affairs; good judgment in the use of resources.” Prudence is one of the main aspects of wisdom and Jesus even commanded His disciples to be prudent when He said:

Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

The Bible has a lot to say, especially in the book of Proverbs, about our need to be prudent. Prov. 1:4 tells us that one of the things wisdom does for us is to make us prudent. Tonight I want us to look at 6 areas where you and I need to exercise prudence.

1. Prudent people know that some things are best covered up. (Prov. 12:16)

Proverbs 12:16 A fool’s wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame.

The idea behind this proverb is that prudent people are able to keep from reacting hastily or harshly to insults or mistreatment. To cover shame= to ignore an insult or slight. Prudent people do not let other people’s criticism get them steamed up. They take it in stride, and overlook the harshness of others.

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