Discretion—uncommon sense

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"Use your common sense!" When I hear that, it makes me wonder. If common sense is so common, why don't we see more of it? It seems there's a lack of common sense, not an abundance of it.

Why else would we be so in debt, individually and as a nation, and keep spending what we don't have? We decry domestic violence, yet spend billions on porn, and revere sexual freedom.

In general, we lack good sense. We lack discretion.


Good people bless and build up their city, but the wicked can destroy it with their words. People without good sense find fault with their neighbors, but those with understanding keep quiet. Gossips can’t keep secrets, but a trustworthy person can. [vss 12-13]

Without leadership a nation falls, but lots of good advice will save it. Whoever guarantees to pay somebody else’s loan will suffer. It is safer to avoid such promises. A kind woman gets respect, but cruel men get only wealth. Kind people do themselves a favor, but cruel people bring trouble on themselves. An evil person really earns nothing, but a good person will surely be rewarded. [vss 14-18]

Those who are truly good will live, but those who chase after evil will die. The Lord hates those with evil hearts but is pleased with those who are innocent. Evil people will certainly be punished, but those who do right will be set free. [vss 19-21]

A beautiful woman without good sense is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout. Those who do right only wish for good, but the wicked can expect to be defeated by God’s anger. [vss 22-23]

(Proverbs 11:12-23 NCV) [Context– Proverbs 11]

Key phrase

Like a gold ring in a pig's snout

Digging Deeper...

  1. How do good sense and discretion help personal relationships, even for a whole nation? What are the consequences of a lack of these qualities?
  2. What are some of the benefits of kindness and goodness? What are the short and long-term costs of cruelty and evil?
  3. What brings about God's favor and blessing? What is the outcome of going against what is good and right?
  4. What illustration is given for a woman who lacks good sense? How does this represent all people who lack discretion and good sense?

Make it personal...

Do you find fault with others? What seems to stir this up?

When you've made poor decisions, do you realize why and what led you to make those decisions?

As opportunities arise, do you find ways to be gracious, kind, and a blessing to others?

What are ways you use good judgment in your home, workplace, and with people you interact with often?


Good sense, or discretion, require a common base of understanding. Where does a person acquire this?

The currents of culture, especially in our media driven society, too often replace more traditional, historical sources of good sense. Why? Opinions abound, but one reason is the relativistic morality and ethics that pervade our western cultures.

The book of Proverbs is filled with ancient allegories and sayings of wisdom. Ancient, yet still relevant. What is your source of wisdom? Whatever it's source, it's the foundation for the decisions you make—good or bad.