Learn On Someone Else’s Nickel

Learn On Someone Else’s Nickel

When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction.
–Proverbs 24:32

An important principle about learning from our failures is this: learn on someone else’s nickel. It is good to learn from your failure. But it is better to learn from somebody else’s failure. Failure is like tuition we pay for a college course. Wouldn’t it be great to have somebody else pay that fee? That is what the Bible says we can do. We can profit by learning from other people’s failures.

Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, illustrated the importance of learning from people’s mistakes. In Proverbs 24:30-31, he wrote, “I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.”

Solomon was taking a walk, and he noticed a piece of property that had become an eyesore. The grass was overgrown, the weeds were out of control, and the wall was broken down. What was his response to that? Did he get angry and say, “I cannot believe my neighbor allowed this to happen. He is going to ruin my property value”? Or did he become prideful and say, “Look at that sluggard. I would never let that happen to my property”? No, he did not respond in either of those ways. Instead of becoming angry or prideful, Solomon decided to learn from his neighbor’s mistake. He wrote, “When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,’ then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man” (24:32-34).

When you see somebody who has failed in business or in a relationship, do not gloat over it. We all tend to rejoice in other people’s failures. It makes us feel better about ourselves. But the Bible says, “Those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished” (17:5 NLT).

And when somebody else fails, do not become prideful over it and say, “I would never make that mistake.” Remember the warning of the Apostle Paul to those who might be tempted to think they will not make a mistake: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Do not gloat, and do not become prideful. Instead, Solomon said, learn from the failures of other people.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Although The Script’s Been Written, You Can Still Improvise” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotation marked NLT is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved.