A verb in the English language is the part of speech which describes an action - in simple terms, it is a "doing" word. It could be used to suggest a mental action, such as thinking. It could also be used to suggest a physical action, such as running. It also can be used to suggest a state of being, such as standing. Did you know God likes verbs? In fact, they are probably one of his most favorite parts of speech! Don't believe me? "Go ye into all the world..." Go is an action word. "Seek first the kingdom of God..." Seek is an action word. Many of God's commands and instructions to us begin or end with some type of action on our part - he is asking us to not be "inactive" believers, but participate in what he is doing in this world!
Heed counsel, act on instruction, and you will become wise later in life. (Proverbs 19:20 VOICE)
Three important verbs to consider: Heed, Act, and Become. We might just miss that last one if we didn't stop to consider it is also an "action" word. When we "become", we are "growing to be" something which we were not in an earlier sense. For example, we might "become tired" when we ride our bikes on a long bicycle ride. We weren't that way at the beginning of the ride, but toward the end, we "grew tired". Weariness is a good example of "becoming" - we start one way, but we end another.
Heed - to give careful attention to something. God isn't just telling us to perk up and take a little notice here - he is reminding us of the intensive action on our part which is required when counsel comes our direction. We actually need to give ourselves entirely to no missing what is contained within that counsel. Not all counsel will come to us by us sitting on someone's couch in an office where a shingle announces the person behind the desk has the "profession" of being a counselor! Although it may come to us in that form on occasion, most counsel is gained in the "regular conversation" of life.
Act - the process of doing. Notice the definition again - it doesn't say something which is done - it is the process of doing. In order to fully grasp how God uses this word for us, we need to keep in mind our actions don't end. There is no end to growing in Christ. There is no end to learning in life. There is no amount of instruction we can say is "enough" and then we just don't need anymore! God calls us to act - enter into the process of embracing the instruction we are given and then allow it to affect how we live each and every day, constantly engaging with that instruction over and over again until it impacts who we are.
Become - grow to be wise. If we heed counsel, enter into the process of doing what we are instructed, we can count on growth being an outcome of our actions. Even growth is an action - it is moving from one state into another, until we reach a place of maturity. Even in maturity there is still growth, though. Don't believe me? Maturity is when we enter into the place of expanded capacity. A fruit ripens on the tree - expanding to a new capacity as it does. Inside that fruit, growth is still occurring, just in a different form. The richness of what will be realized when that growth is final may not be evident on the surface, but it is happening!
Look at the time frame - later in life. Now, lest you think you have arrived, I would have to ask you to define "later in life". If you are my mom's age (97), then you might say it is in your 90's, but if you are like most teenagers, you would say it is when you reach 20! The goal isn't "arriving", it is the process of being engaged in doing - until whatever "state" of maturity God calls us into is totally and completely accomplished. I like what my pastor teaches us about the Book of Acts in scripture. He says, "It is not the Book of Thoughts, or the Book of Pontification, or even the Book of Beliefs. It is the Book of Action." I guess God wasn't finished with all the verbs in scripture, so he wrote another one! Truth be told, he isn't finished "writing" because he is writing the continual revelation of scripture in each of our lives - through the process of us heeding, acting, and becoming. Just sayin!