Common sense is sound judgment in practical matters. In Proverbs 8:5 some translations speak of the need to develop “common sense,” which other translations simply call “prudence” or “discretion.” Biblically, common sense can be thought of as a combination of wisdom and discretion (Proverbs 3:21; 8:12–14). Wisdom is knowing what to do; discretion is knowing when and where to do it.
Part of being a fool is having no common sense or being “void of understanding,” as the KJV puts it (Proverbs 7:7; 24:30). The book of Proverbs proclaims the benefits of gaining wisdom and also shows the folly of being a fool (Proverbs 13:16; 16:22; 26:11). Proverbs 3:13–14 says, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” Wisdom allows us to see life the way God does. When we seek God’s perspective, we can make decisions based upon their eternal significance rather than selfish interest. When we choose to make decisions based on wisdom alone, we are exercising common sense.
The desire for instant gratification is the enemy of common sense. Many people have become ensnared in trouble and heartache because they rejected a wise path and sought instead immediate satisfaction. Common sense is often developed by learning from the consequences of such poor choices—the school of hard knocks educates many. Everyone makes bad decisions at some point. The difference between the wise and the foolish is that one learns from his mistakes and the other keeps repeating them. Some people seem born with a more level head, while others learn from experience. Either way, wisdom and common sense should be continually pursued in order to experience the best God has for us (Proverbs 2:1–8).