Scripture says, “the one who is wise saves lives. ... Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:30; 4:7)
Jesus counseled using wisdom as we go and tell the good news, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
Similarly, the apostle Paul urged believers in Colossians 4:2-6 to be watchful and wise as they engaged unbelievers in seasoned with salt conversations. These kinds of stimulating conversations often prompt thoughtful questions which open the door for us to give a wise answer.
Jesus provides an example of wisdom in John 4 when he met the woman at the well. He responded appropriately speaking about living water, hinting it was a gift of God.
This prompted curious questions from the woman which, in turn opened a door for Jesus to explain eternal life. Not surprisingly, this engaging conversation paved the way for Jesus to explain good news to her neighbors who were also curious. Eventually, after they heard him for two days, they agreed, “he is, indeed, the Saviour of the world.”
Idioms, proverbs & wisdom
Not unlike the way in which Christ spoke metaphorically about living water, I recently had an opportunity to use a proverb with an international student.
A friend asked if I would help Elias* as he was struggling to learn English online at college. We quickly established a real bond of friendship. Early one morning he sent me a cheery message with a smiley emoticon: “Good morning. The sun is bright today :) Good luck & have a great day.”
I replied, “Sunrise is a beautiful symbol of hope” to which he responded, “You can say that again.”
Several days later I commented further about light, noting how it goes hand in hand with hope. In fact, I sent him a few proverbial sayings: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. ... In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.” (Proverbs 4:18; 12:28) I also quoted Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God has set eternity in the human heart.”
My friend deeply appreciated this and has subsequently shown how much he likes it by re- copying this quote to me several times!
Hungry & Thirsty for More
In answer to prayer God has deepened my friend's spiritual hunger.
Some weeks later I gave Elias* a Bible in Arabic and English. He has enjoyed reading through the book of Proverbs and now is curious to know more about Jesus.
In fact, he has agreed to read a series of stories starting with Genesis and continuing right up to Jesus. On more than one occasion he said that when he reads the Bible it “feeds his soul”. He also admitted, “These wise sayings make me feel hungry and thirsty for more.”
One day I met Elias* on the grass outside his apartment and we talked for 90 minutes. I listened to him as he practiced reading English from John chapter four which recounts the story of the woman at the well.
From the expressions on his face and his comments I could see he was impressed by the way Jesus respected this woman who was from such a different, though similar, culture to the Jewish people.
*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of individuals in this story.
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David Foster serves with Serving In Mission (SIM) and has a heart for reaching out to Muslims with the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ. David has been engaged with LMT for many years through collaboration, events and prayer initiatives. He is also a member of the LMT Resources Circle, a group engaged in seeing the best resources made available to help Christ-followers engage well with their Muslim friends and neighbors.