So often, I have read and then adopted the belief as my own, that the Proverbs are a great tool for teaching wisdom to your children, but today I saw them in an entirely new light. I was both inspired and humbled by the new understanding. I find myself looking at parenting as just one more avenue God is taking me in order for me to be closer to Him. My reading was primarily in Chapters 10-12, though some come from chapters 8,9, and 13. My suggestion is that you read all and let God speak to you as a parent. Don’t stop reading here. I am just a parent and still learning (and I am not nearly as eloquent as dear Solomon). This is how it spoke to me this morning.
The overlying message I saw was that wisdom can only be willingly received when the one bestowing wisdom is righteous. As a parent, in order to be effective, I must consistently show my character as a godly one. Yes, I am going to make mistakes. As a parent, I may lose my cool, I may say something out of frustration or behave badly in other ways, and when I do, I must humble myself in apology. If my character is godly, it will be quick, it will be sincere, and an immediate change will be seen as I allow myself to transformed by His grace. My character, if godly, will be seen in the rest of my actions as well.
I am not going to get into the roles of the father and the mother here as they are different and could easily make two more separate posts Proverbs 10-12 specifically speaks of the righteous behavior that is needed for wisdom to be soaked up by another. God is this righteousness. Our goal is to imitate Christ, though we are lacking and still attempt to do as God commanded in Deuteronomy 6:7, teaching the way they should go in every hour of the day. If we are actively doing this, the Word that we use to teach will keep us accountable. For how can we constantly teach the Word and not be affected by it ourselves? Proverbs 12:15 points out that a wise parent will always seek counsel (and 12:1).
The mouth and lips are mentioned several times in chapters 10-12. It is not pointing out the obvious that we will use our mouths when teaching of wisdom, but instead telling us that what comes from the mouth is the a way that we perceive what is righteous (Proverbs 10:32, 12:17). It is also pointing out the product of one that is righteous. The words of the righteous give life. Proverbs 11: 30 uses the words, “tree of life.” This is the “fruit” of our righteousness, children that seek the Lord for life ever-lasting. Those hearing will hear, understand, and receive the Gospel. The mouth is….” a well of life, delivers from death, promotes health, is truthful, shall be established forever (Proverbs 10:2 11, 11:4b, 12:18b-19). The righteous will direct them aright and will deliver them (Proverbs 11:5-6). The righteous will…cause those who love (me) to inherit wealth… they will receive blessing, life, and favor (Proverbs 8: 18- 21, 34-35). The wisdom bestowed will lead to leadership (Proverbs 8: 15-16, 12:24). Our words of wisdom (if mirrored by our actions) lead our children to the truth of salvation.
Righteous parents have power in their words of truth. They have a powerful influence because of the daily model of wisdom in their child’s life. Because they spend time in the Word themselves, parents have the understanding needed to teach wisdom. They understand submission and obedience and the shedding of personal desire. They understand confession and repentance, that we are human, that we will fail, and we continually need Christ’s redemption. They understand the accountability of the Word of Jesus Christ. That the more we meditate on it, the more we understand, and the more we will rely on the Word to keep our path straight. A full life with Jesus is dependent upon the time we spend with Him in prayer and in Word. If we lack understanding, if we only have knowledge, but do not apply this knowledge in our own life through word and action, we will be ineffective in teaching (Proverbs 10:13-14). However, if we are righteous, we will constantly feed them through the Word, and we will be able to influence our children’s desire away from sin (Proverbs 10:3).
While punishment is sometimes appropriate, the most of these proverbs focuses on teaching and correction. Proverbs 13:18 and 10:13 point out that punishment would only follow wisdom and correction that has been ignored. This teaching is done without arrogance and glorification of oneself. (Proverbs 10:14, 12:23) A parent must be humbled as a sinner, equal in God’s sight, both equally sinful, and equally and gracefully forgiven. Proverbs 8:22-31 shows that God’s wisdom is seen from the beginning of time with His grand creation, yet He finds his delight in the sons of men. God does not hold His wisdom over our heads like a feat that can never be accomplished. Remember His humility in the flesh. He is not an arrogant disciplinarian. He is constantly there guiding us, teaching us, correcting and rebuking us, showing His love in His patience and kindness though we falter daily. How can a parent not be moved to mimic this character of God for their children? Only if we parent with humility, will we see a product of wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).
The proverbs compares righteousness to good citizenship (Proverbs 9-11). Let’s take that idea into the home. Through a godly parents wisdom, their children will be delivered. The Gospel will be heard, understood, and received ( vs. 9). A godly parent will be the cause of happiness in the home (vs 10). The godly parent blesses the family with his/her mouth building up the family and encouraging them with their words. (vs. 11). They spread peace and joy (Proverbs 12:20)
The proverbs tell us that seeking wrath in our parenting is not our goal, but we should always parent while seeking God’s goodness and God’s approval of our own behavior (Proverbs 11:20, 23, 27) The godly parent will only be satisfied if they produce the fruit of the same kind, a child who walks with the Lord (Proverbs 12:14) A godly parent will fear the Lord and hate what is evil, keeping it far away from him, not acknowledging it, not owning it (Proverbs 8:13, 9 :10).
In contrast, the one who cannot be effective in teaching wisdom, is the parent that needs no counsel. This parent has all the answers and seeks no wisdom from the Word, from other godly parents, through the Church, or through prayer (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15 ). Chapter 11, verse 3 warns that if we are unfaithful followers that we will destroy those who we lead (and 12:18). Countless verses emphasize the truth and sincerity of the words of a parent. Parenting should not be done with trickery or manipulation. In contrast the ungodly are characterized by their lies and deceit, honoring themselves, and twisting the truth to suit their needs (Proverbs 10:31-32, 12:10)
In chapter 11, verse 10, it is mentioned that an ungodly person’s reputation taints the perception of even the tender acts he attempts. (“But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” ) Often the struggling parent lashes out in anger, nullifying any wisdom that might to come from their mouth., therefore knowing the truth and speaking it are pointless, when anger dominates parenting (Proverbs 10:11). Our words cannot be used to destroy our children, for when they do forgiveness is seemingly out of reach for them (Proverbs 11::9). A parent’s lips should not breed anxiety in a child, which may lead to depression or a perception of oneself that is unforgiving. (Prov. 12:15). If our righteousness produces the fruit of the tree of life, what is the alternative? We condemn them to an everlasting life of torment and separation from God. With all of our biblical knowledge, without applying it in our own lives are deemed ineffective and worse, destructive.
Proverbs 11:25-26 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?…” Penn Jillete
As parents, our integrity comes from using God’s standards as our own. To use them we must know them through study. To know them we must apply them, allowing God to transform our character. Whether it be teaching, correction, or punishment, all should be done as a humble believer, acknowledging our own sin, and the grace and forgiveness that we have found in Christ, bestowing the same on our children. It is then, that the words that we speak in wisdom will be heard and understood, leading out children down the paths of righteousness (Proverbs 11:1-6). The idea is, that we need to look at ourselves as the ones who need the counsel of the wise, so that we are then able impress that knowledge on our children. It is not just the wisdom of the Word, but the wisdom of the Word working in our life. That is full wisdom. That is what will be understood and received by our children.