Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Today’s Topic: Let the Teaching Begin
Today’s Text: Proverbs 1:10 (NIV) My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.
Do you remember the first conversation you ever had with your father? I don’t. Even if I eliminate the early years prior to the age of five, I still can’t remember a conversation of any real significance. I’m sure there were some because of the values and beliefs that are still foundational to my life, and for that I am so thankful: but I can’t remember them. I wonder if he can.
Communication with our children is critical. Unfortunately our conversations with them are usually quite shallow, and when we do try to teach them something it is done as an emotional response to an undesirable action on their part. Very seldom do parents have a plan for the training of their children that is consistently implemented.
There are two general patterns that parents adopt for the training of their children. The first and least desirable is what I call the “reactionary” method. Other terms I could coin would be the “off-the-cuff wisdom” method or the “this is really inconvenient for me right now” method. In this format parents simply react to whatever the children do and hope they have the wisdom and skill to handle the consequences when it happens. There is no need for planning or preparation, and there is certainly no defined long-term purpose to what they are doing. Teaching of the child is confined to the limited time immediately surrounding each event that required parental intervention, and is usually done with emotional outbursts.
The second and preferred pattern is the “disciplinary” method. Parents using this method have established goals for the character development of their children, and have defined a specific plan of how to accomplish those goals. They know that a child’s life is a treasure that needs to be fully discovered but that without proper polishing the treasure could be lost forever. They recognize their highest priority is to “disciple” their children through teaching, correction, admonition, training, and application. They have developed a “scope and sequence” for each child, uniquely adapted to the individual needs and personalities of their children. There is a syllabus for every year of their lives based on their emotional, educational, and spiritual maturity. They don’t react to events that happen, but train their children to be prepared for when they do happen.
The disciplinary method is the Biblical pattern for parenting. In fact, it is God’s pattern as our Heavenly Father for all of us as His children. God’s scope and sequence had a beginning for us – the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). That is the same place we are to begin in the training of our children.
It is extremely significant that with all the wisdom he was granted by God that Solomon chooses to begin the instruction of his son with these words – if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. He then goes on to explain the consequences of sin. Then, to balance that, he also teaches his son the value of wisdom and its benefits for life. Starting in verse ten, read the rest of chapter one right now. (see footnote below if you don’t have your Bible handy) Pay special attention to how Solomon prepares his son for the potential traps of sin and the consequences of that sin, and then to how he presents the positive alternative by following the path of God.
If the training of our children is not first and foremost founded on faith in Jesus Christ which includes the recognition and rejection of sin, then we have built for our children the wrong foundation. As parents we must have a plan with a purpose. Our teaching must be intentional and consistent. It will be the temptation right now to think that this is too hard and will be inconvenient. If so, then you have already made your choice of methods. But just look into the eyes of your child and see if that choice is really the product of the love that lies deep in your heart.
Proverbs 1:10-33 (NIV)
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. 11 If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul; 12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; 14 throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse”– 15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; 16 for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. 17 How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! 18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! 19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it. 20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; 21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: 22 “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. 24 But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, 25 since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you– 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. 29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”