Saturday, August 4, 2012

Proverbs 4

Read Proverbs 4:1 – 9. In Chapter Three, the name of the Lord appeared nine times, linking wisdom to its ultimate source in God. In this chapter, no explicit mention of God appears at all. Instead, we’re given a picture of a father teaching his son what he himself remembers being taught by his own father when he was a young, only child. The son of Proverbs benefits from his grandfather’s and his father’s wisdom.

Parents have the responsibility of being the primary voice of God’s wisdom to their kids. For millennia, wisdom has been taught in the home, handed down from generation to generation by intentional verbal transmission from father to son or mother to daughter. In recent history, education has been outsourced to professionals. Yet, few educational programs teach the acquisition of life wisdom and few parents supplement this teaching with intentional instruction in the home. The picture of a child sitting at the feet of his or her parents, learning life lessons about relationships, integrity, faith and other areas in which wisdom is needed, is foreign to us. If you are a parent with children living at home, are you intentionally devoting time to conversations about wisdom and life?[1]

Read Proverbs 4:10 – 19. After relaying his own father’s teaching, the author warns his son. He’s lived long enough to see the results of choosing unwise paths. In Verse 15, he says in four different ways, “Stay off those paths.” Wicked paths leads to darkness, lost sleep, and an increasingly irresistible compulsion to pursue ever-greater depravity. Although this text doesn’t portray a dialogue between father and son, it seems likely that older sons might ask a father how he knows these things. Children who hear a parent lovingly but firmly caution them out of their own experiences and observations have a foundation for future wisdom. What foundation do younger believers see in your life?

Read Proverbs 4:20 – 27. This chapter is the first where we are told we must guard and protect our hearts. Fullness of life is not a reward for good behavior. It’s a gift from God that is ours to lose or to keep. Wisdom’s goal is not to keep bad things out, but to put good things into our hearts and retain them (v. 20 – 21). We must lay hold (v. 4), hold on (v. 13), and guard our hearts, so that out of them come springs of life (v. 23). If our hearts are wise, our mouths (v. 24), eyes (v. 25), and feet (v. 26) will follow.

Take a moment to consider the spiritual legacy you are leaving younger believers. How might you better lay hold of, guard, and share wisdom with them? Ask God to make you aware of areas in which you lack wisdom and to point you to His resources for it.

[1] One way of bringing conversations about wisdom into your family dynamic is by spending ten minutes at dinner discussing a short devotional topic. The One Year Josh McDowell’s Youth Devotions book has daily, one-page discussions which help young people consider life choices.

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