On Words and Wisdom
How can you and I make wise choice and decisions in everyday life, including the many decisions we must make every day in regard to our children’s needs? From where do we gain the wisdom we so desperately need in order to be both loving and wise parents? How can we be sure that behind our advice is godly wisdom that will greatly benefit our children for the rest of their days?
I’ve been reading through the book of Job over the past week or two. When I read the following words of wisdom, I felt again the stirring of God in my spirit to write to you: “I have not departed from his (God’s) commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food.” (Job 23:12, NLT)
The more Frieda and I read God’s Word daily, the more we become convinced of the importance and imperative of knowing, believing and living according to the light God has given to us in the Bible. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)
Do I need to persuade you of the uniqueness of the Bible? I hope not. It is unlike any other book in all the world. God’s purpose in giving us this divine revelation of Himself and His will isn’t to inform but to teach and guide us in the way to think and the way to live that will truly set us free. “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32, NLT)
I’m sure you believe the Bible to be God’s Manual of Life for His people. But we will only know this to be true and real as we walk them out in life. In this way we turn “words” into “wisdom”.
How do we do this? How can you and we move from knowing and reading the “words” of the Bible to making these words “wisdom” in our daily choices as parents and spouses?
Firstly, take and make time every day to read and meditate on God’s Word. We need not only to train ourselves in this discipline but also train our children. By that I mean, to train our children to recognise and accept that for their mother and father, spending time alone with God and His Word is as important, in fact more important at the moment, than being with them.
I don’t know if you find this hard to believe but parents can train their children to engage in meaningful activities during such times, especially once they’re out of the very small baby phase. If you speak to them about your joy in reading the Bible and the importance to you to pray to God so that you can be a good mummy or daddy, there’s a very good possibility that they will even ask to “read” their Bible Story book at the same time. Good things happen just by setting a good example – by living your faith before the eyes of your children.
Of course, there are many variables in family life. That’s no surprise to us! However, either you train your children according to what is right for them, or they train you to do whatever they want. “Rather, bring them up with the instruction and discipline that comes from the Lord” (Eph.6:4b, NLT). Training children is a hard but fundamental part of a parent’s responsibility.
We encourage you NOT to think of your setting aside time for God each day as being in the “too hard” basket for parents of young children. The psalmist says: “The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” (Psalm 119:130, NLT) Obviously if we don’t open our minds and hearts to the entrance of God’s wisdom, our lives, our parenting, our relationships will all sadly be devoid of this light. We’ll stumble and fumble our way along rather than walking decisively as one does in the light of the noonday sun.
How long, when, where etc.? If we set our hearts on God and on discerning His mind more than we set our hearts on all those “other things” that grab for our attention in the world around us, God’s Spirit our Helper will give us answers to each of these practical questions.
Secondly, have a tradition of reading Scripture together as a family. Yes, family traditions are good traditions! One of my treasured memories of home as a boy was my father reading from a book of Bible readings, “Daily Light,” every morning after breakfast. What did I learn from these Bible readings in the old King James’ English? Above all else, I imbibed a sense of respect for the Word of God – for the centrality of God’s truth in life.
Set a tradition that fits your family context remembering work and school schedules et al. Place a Bible in a central location in your home, both so that it’s nearby, but just as importantly, so that you and your children are continually reminded that what GOD says is far, far more important in your Christian home to the “noise” of TV or radio commentators or journalists whose many words are generally lacking in or even in opposition to godly wisdom.
I won’t take time to answer the how, when, where questions because I’m confident that God can and will give you the answers that best suit your situation.
However, I’d like to offer two simple words of counsel. Firstly, choose and use a modern translation of the Bible, and secondly, dads, take the leadership role. This is not to say that you, mums, aren’t as capable as dads are in leading family worship. But God has given to us dads the responsibility to give spiritual leadership to our families. When we dads take a back seat role in these most important matters, what is the message we communicate to our children about being a man and living for God? If our children (especially our sons!) come to know their fathers only as keen followers / players of sports or “fun people” but not equally as keen followers of Jesus, what a tragic loss for them and for the generations to come!
Thirdly, use God’s Word in your everyday conversation at home. God has called us to be “teachers” and “trainers” of His children.
Sadly some parents can replace “teaching” and “training” with “preaching” and “nagging”. I recall feeling sad and troubled in my spirit when visiting a missionary family in Albania. The father quoted a Scripture “at” one of his children in order to get her to obey. We are to use God’s Word as a means to instruct, to guide and to impart wisdom to the young minds of our children, not to browbeat them into submission.
But too often we go from one extreme to the other. Some of us may have been on the receiving end of too much “preaching” and consequently have vowed (a dangerous word in anyone’s vocabulary!): “I’ll never do that to my children!” These kind of vows sadly play right into the hand of the enemy who wants to keep God’s Word out of the home. If you have fallen into this trap, then step out into the light, refusing to allow negative memories from the past to stop you from taking decisive, positive and creative steps in the present.
Don’t live in fear of overstepping the mark. Far more spiritual damage is done to your children’s spiritual development by neglect and inaction than by over-zealous use of God’s Word in the home.
God has given us His holy and inspired Word for FOUR PRIMARY PURPOSES: 1) to teach and instruct, 2) to correct and chastise, 3) to rebuke and warn, and 4) to train and equip ourselves and our children for right and holy living. (See 2 Tim.3:16-17.)
Each use is a necessary and integral “word” in training our children in “wisdom”. If we are afraid to correct and rebuke lest we communicate to them a “negative” message about God, we are in fact communicating a very negative, distorted and harmful message about God – that when He says to His people: “DON’T!” – He doesn’t love us. He is against us.
How far can this be from the truth! God is always “for us”, in all He says. Behind His “negative” words is great wisdom. If we are to be wise in our parenting, and successful in teaching our children true wisdom, we must be disciplined in our use of all four elements of God’s truth.
Dear parent, God’s Word is our “salvation” and also our children’s, keeping us and them from following “the highway to hell” (Matt.7:7:13, NLT) – the path of man’s wisdom pursued by the many spiritually blind around us.
Therefore, take time to immerse yourself in God’s truth. Know what God says. Don’t allow yourself to be just plain ignorant of God’s wisdom. Let God grow you in wisdom through allowing God’s truth into your own mind and heart. Don’t neglect the hard work of turning God’s “words” into “living wisdom” in the details of daily life at home. Take seriously the instruction that God gave over and over again to His ancient people:
1O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying,2for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—3stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.4We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.5For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children,6so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children.7So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.8Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. (Psalm 78:1-8, NLT)
We pray that God will guide you as you faithfully follow His trustworthy Word in your home.
Graham & Frieda Roberts
Equip & Encourage Int’l
January 14, 2009