Bella Vista Church of Christ



Charles Cash




  The Proverbs of Solomon were written to man “for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.” (Proverbs 1:2-3)


  The great lessons Solomon tries to relay to us are lessons, most of which, he had learned the hard way, through experience.


  The lessons we learn through experience are usually indelibly stamped on our minds. Mark Twain put it this way: “The person who has had a bull by the tail once has learned 60 or 70 times as much as a person who hasn’t.” We all have had, and continue to have, experiences, both good and bad. What we learn from an experience depends on the attitude we take into the experience. If we don’t learn from our bad experiences, then we come away no wiser than we were. Elbert Hubbard defined a failure as “a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience.” A person who is really thinking will learn as much from his failures as from his successes.


  Someone once said to an elderly gentleman: “Tell me, old timer, where did you get your good judgement?” The man replied, “From experience.” He was then asked, “Where did you get your experience?” To which he responded, “From bad judgement.”


  Experience has been called “Compulsory Education.” It has also been said many times: “Experience is the best teacher.” C. S. Lewis said, “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn, oh my, do you learn.” That may be true, but, God forbid that we should have to learn everything the hard way. Experience may be the best teacher, but the tuition is often terribly high! Listen to God, His Words! Follow His instructions. “Turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2) Know this: “Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the transgressor is hard.”(Proverbs 13:15) Believe what God says! Experience has a way of giving the test first and the lesson later.


  Most parents want their children to profit from their experience, thus being spared hurt and disappointment. Tom Mullen wrote, “We’ve accumulated the memorabilia of living forty or fifty years; and it’s a shame to let it go to waste.” Solomon wrote: “My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 6:20)“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:1) Here is a bit of corn patch philosophy: “An older person has more experience in being a younger person than a younger person has in being an older person.”


  Just think of all the examples God gives us throughout the Bible, as He tells of men and women and the lives they lived. Paul wrote, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) After enumerating many of the pitfalls the Israelites fell into, Paul wrote, “These things happened unto them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” (I Corinthians 10:11) God did not leave His great principles of life in the abstract, but has vividly illustrated them in the light of human conduct. Some people were wise, some foolish! Their experiences, good or bad, serve as examples for us. We need to learn and heed the lessons they teach!


  Think of the lives of some individuals in the Bible and their experiences, some good and some bad. Think of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Solomon, Deborah, Esther, Peter, Paul, John and Barnabas, to name a few. God says, “Learn! Take heed! Profit from their experiences!”


  A final note on experience! Vance Havner once said: “Too much of our spiritual interest is academic, an argument, but not an experience. We are like beggars discussing pocketbooks-and all of them ‘broke.’” Our conversion to Christ is an experience! And what a wonderful experience that is! Our Christian life is an experience, a “fellowship with each other” and more importantly, “fellowship with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”