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"Wisdom For The Home": Proverbs 3:1-8

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“Wisdom For The Home”: Proverbs 3:1-8 Sunday, May 10, 2020 I’d invite you to turn to the book of Proverbs chapter 3. It’s about right in the middle of your Bible. The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom sayings. It’s a collection of general truth statements that lead to a more God-honoring life. And the book of Proverbs has much to say about family relationships, particularly the relationship between parent and child. And I will try to honor my mom’s request to keep my sermon shorter today, but I do want us to see in this book some truths for both parents and children that will help us to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Because many of these truths are sprinkled throughout the book of Proverbs, we’ll be jumping around a bit. But let’s begin by focusing on four principles for wise parenting in this book. 1. Wise Parents Provide Instruction For Their Children (1:8-9, 6:20-22) Dueteronomy 6:4-5 contains what Jesus called the greatest Commandment. It says: “4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” To love God and live for him with every fiber of our being is why we were created. And then the very next verses proceed to tell parents it’s our job to raise our kids to know and fulfill that purpose. It says in verse 6: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” The entire dynamic of the book of Proverbs is really built around the framework of a father providing instruction for his son about how to live wisely. Chapter after chapter in this book contains explicit instructions from a parent to his son. •1:8-9 For moms and dads, we need this reminder that the primary responsibility for raising kids to know God and live by faith in Jesus is not given to the church, but to the home. The fact is that we as a church want to come alongside parents and equip you with to disciple your kids, and even to provide ministries that will reinforce and strengthen what you are doing at home. But no church, no matter how dynamic and Christ-centered it is, can replace what God has designed a Christian home and family to do. Now, that’s not a hard and fast rule. Praise God there are examples of kids who grew up with terrible home lives and no Christian presence in the home who grew up to know the Lord and do great things for God’s kingdom. But those are the exception, not the norm. The general pattern is that our kids will not just drift towards holiness and Christlikeness. If we want our kids to love & follow God, we must be intentional about instructing them in the Word. The sounds like a daunting task, but even small, intentional changes can make great impact. Our daughter started taking piano this year, and we’ve tried to make it part of the routine of our home that she takes just a few minutes a day to practice. Now, no single practice session by itself has made much difference, but the cumulative effect of 5-15 minutes a day has added up. And she’s made great strides in less than a year. Fortunately, we live in an era in which there is no shortage of resources available to assist parents in this task. Many kids spend hours in each day in front of screens, but no time at all with God’s word. The time is there, if we commit to being intentional about it. What would be the cumulative effect of reading one passage of Scripture a day with our kids, or taking 5-10 minutes to do a devotion together as a family? What would God do is in our home we were mediating on & memorizing a verse of Scripture each week? This is easy enough to do when our kids our young; it may be tougher to do when they get older. But it can be done. Maybe you come up with a reward, and you say “If we do our devotion each week without complaining, we’ll order pizza Friday night.” Or if your kids are competitive, make it a challenge: “Hey let’s see who can be the first one in the family to memorize this week’s verse. The winner gets to pick what’s for dessert.” By the way, from my examples, can you tell food is a motivator in our house? Maybe it’s something else for your family. But the point is, whether or not we have kids at home, we have a calling to be intentional about instructing our own hearts in God’s truth. 2. Wise Parents Model Godly Behavior Proverbs 20:7 says, “The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!” Proverbs 31 talks about all the ways a godly wife and mother will lead her family by living out her faith in practical ways. The point is that just instructing our kids in God’s truth is not enough. We’ve got to lead by example and show them what it looks like to follow the Lord. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not the motto of godly parenting. Instead, parents ought to model for their children the principles that they are trying to instill in them. Every Christian ought to strive to say to those around them what the apostle Paul said to the church at Corinth: “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” That’s double true for parents. 3. Wise Parents Discipline Their Children There are a large number of verses in the book of Proverbs that address the issue of discipline. Many speak about the “rod” of disciplines, and there’s a good bit of debate over whether that requires literally spanking our children or whether the “rod” refers more to just the principle that parents must have a system of discipline in place. I do agree with those who’ve noted that spanking in our culture is often just a way for parents to give vent to their anger and frustration. That’s not helpful. A biblical view of corporal punishment is one in which the parent is in control of himself attempting to use that form of punishment as a way to firmly and lovingly correct their child, not merely take out their anger on them. Sometimes a spanking might be the most effective way to discipline, other time letting the child face the consequence of their actions may be more appropriate (like when my mom sent me to school with an empty lunchbox. But whether you choose to spank or not, what is clear in the Bible and that parents must correct and reprove their children when they sin. Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” Anyone who has encountered a grown child who has never been told “No!” or been made to face the consequences of their actions knows it is not love in the long run to let children live without discipline. Therefore, Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son while there is hope, & do not desire his death.” In other words, the parent who refuses to discipline their child is actually putting them on a path that leads to death, but the way to demonstrate you have hope for your child is by holding them accountable for their actions. So Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul.” If we do these things, God’s word to parents in found in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Again, that’s a general truth statement, not a hard and fast promise. There are exceptions to every rule, but generally, when parents are faithful to intentionally teach their children the gospel, to model a consistent, Christian lifestyle, and to prayerfully discipline their children, the result is adults who grow up to continue on the path their parents showed them as a child. So that’s wisdom for parents. Now let’s turn to wisdom for children. Now, we’re all children in a sense, but I think the truths we’re going to see here apply to those who us who have parents still living, and it especially applies to those who us who still live at home and are dependent upon our parents. 1. Wise Children Obey Their Parent’s Teaching We generally don’t know what we haven’t been taught. And so God gives us parents to children to teach them all the things they don’t know. Have you ever noticed how many questions a young child asks? One study of kids aged 2 to 10 years old found the average mother is asked almost 300 questions a day by her children. The highest was from 4-yearold little girls—we have one at our house right now—who averaged nearly 400 questions per day. Some of you have 3-4 children in that age range in your home right now. That’s 1,000 questions a day! The reason kids ask so many questions is they don’t know much. It’s how they learn. And so the younger you are, the more you need the instruction your parents provide. But the truth is no matter how old or smart you are, your parents will always have something to teach you. Proverbs 23:22 says, “Listen to your father who begot you, & do not despise your mother when she is old.” I’m nearly 40 and have more degrees than my mom, but I still call and ask her advice regularly. Listen to your parents, and you will save yourself a world of heartache. 2. Wise Children Receive Discipline With Maturity Proverbs 15:5 says “A fool rejects his father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible.” No child likes to be disciplined or punished, but one mark of wisdom and maturity is that we learn to accept loving correction and constructive criticism. I tell our youth from time to time, if you want to show your parents that you are mature, then admit when you are wrong and receive their discipline without a fight. If you want them to give you more freedom, show you can live with the rules and boundaries that set for you. Wise children understand those limits and boundaries are probably there for good reason, even if they don’t understand or agree at the moment. Proverbs 3:11-12 says: “My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD or loathe His reproof, 12For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” The reality is if you will have limits and authority all your life. Learn to live under your parents authority is part of the God’s way for showing you how to live under His authority. 3. Wise Children Treat Their Parents With Respect It’ may seem cool to roll your eyes at your parents, or back-talk, mutter, or make fun of your parents behind their back, but the Bible has some pretty strong words for those who disrespect their parents. •Proverbs 19:26: He who assaults his father & drives his mother away is a shameful & disgraceful son •Proverbs 30:17: The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it. The reality is when we choose to disrespect our parents, we are disrespecting God, because we are despising an authority that God has placed in your life for our good. No, our parents aren’t always perfect or honorable, but neither are we. When we choose to treat them with kindness and respect, even if it seems they don’t deserve it, we are at the very least showing honor to God. Now, that’s the book of Proverbs vision for being a wise parent and a wise child, but that kind of leaves something out doesn’t it. After all, it’s possible to see all these things as just a roadmap to living a good, moral life. And as long as I check off the boxes, and keep a respectful attitude toward my parents, and as a parent I don’t lose it on my kids and set a bad example for them, then that’s enough. But it’s not enough. Remember the great commandment? We’re supposed to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength. That’s not just outward conformity. That’s inward desire. And if we’re honest, none of us, parent or child, lives up to that standard. Many times we want to do the right things, but we find ourself unable to live up to being the parent or child we know we should be. Other times we do just find outwardly conforming to what it means to be a “good person”, but on the inside we’re kicking and screaming against it all the way, and our hearts are in a different place. We need a heart change. We need a new Spirit. And that’s why Jesus came. He’s the perfectly obedient Son who always obeyed His heavenly Father with all his heart, soul, and strength. He never sinned. Yet the one who never deserved to be punished by His Father submitted Himself to the worst punishment ever, death on a cross, all so you and I could be set free from our sin. And He rose again from the dead that we could share in the new life He gives when we trust Him by faith. Like my mom shared earlier, being a Christian isn’t just trying to live a good, moral life. It’s a total surrender to Jesus, and allowing Him to transform us from the inside out. The irony is we’ve got to admit we can’t be the parent or child we’re supposed to be before we can really begin to fulfill God’s purpose for our life. But once we humble ourselves and admit our inability to God, it frees us from the burden of trying to be the perfect parent or the perfect kid and allows us to give grace. We can freely own our mistakes to our families, and the language and atmosphere or grace begins to transform our lives and our homes. Words like, “I’m sorry”, “Please forgive me”, “I was wrong,” and “I forgive you” come much easier. And though the battle to spend time in God’s word and submit to His discipline may always be a struggle, their will be a greater to desire to fight for holiness than ever before. Every parent needs Jesus. And every child needs Jesus. And the way to start living wisely as a parent or child today is to begin building your life and your home on Jesus. Proverbs 14:26 says, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” Want to change your home? Put your hope and confidence in God. Worship Him and pursue Him. And guess what? He won’t just change your life, mom and dad, but as you follow Jesus and lead your kids to do the same, He’ll become their refuge too!
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