Every study done on the issue reveals that the most influential thing in a child’s life is his or her parents. While many proverbs bring exhortation from a parent to a child, Proverbs 4 stands as one of the most lengthy and affectionate appeals.
Verse 1 opens “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight.” However, this wise father not only wants to pass on wisdom, but a love of wisdom. He says, “Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” (8–9, ESV) This idea is a striking feature, the best gift a parent can give, or that a child can receive, is a love for wisdom. Wisdom cannot be transposed, it must be sought after by an individual. Even if a child has the wisest of all father’s, and he spouts wisdom day and night, it does not matter if the child is not receptive.
How receptive are you to your Father’s wisdom? Whatever you think of your earthly parents and their ability to equip you for the realities of this life, you have a Heavenly Father who has spoken wisdom that will last into eternity. As the proverb says, “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.”
Not only should parents instill a love of wisdom, but so much of wisdom requires achieving perspective. Verse 26 says, “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.”
In seminary, I wrote a response paper from a journal article about participation in risky behavior among adolescents. The conclusion of that article was not that adolescents failed to use reason in their risky choices, it was that they often lacked the perspective to understand the flaws in their reasoning. Many times, when a parent or youth workers wag their heads, wondering why teenagers would do certain things, we must pause and encourage them to “Ponder the path.”
There is no participation award in life, everyone will not “win.” We will either end up in one of two camps, success or failure. How our culture decides to define these terms may vary, but God’s Word is clear, success is eternal life through Christ Jesus; failure is hell. Wisdom based on an eternal perspective allows us to ponder our path, begin with the end in mind, and all of a sudden, this life becomes much more manageable. That’s a lesson worth passing on.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate