‘Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,’ (Proverbs 1:8)
Mums and Dads
We’re still in the first chapter of Proverbs, and Solomon seems keen to mention a key theme that he will return to again and again: we should listen to our parents’ instruction and experience. I think this talks to three groups of people.
To those with parents
If your parents are still alive, regardless of your age, it’s important that we honour our parents by listening to them. We should obey their instructions (providing they are not contrary to Scripture or the wishes of our spouse), and genuinely weigh up any other advice they give us. Quite simply, our parents have been around longer than we have, and we would do well to do everything we can to benefit from that extended experience. How much better would Solomon have fared if he had taken on board the wisdom of his father? Solomon was the illegitimate child of David and Bathsheba, yet he did not learn from it and ended up becoming a sex addict himself. Let’s listen to our parents.
On the flip side, as parents we need to be careful in how we pass on wisdom to our children. We need to be careful to instruct our children clearly, and in a way which will benefit them the most. This means making sure that we don’t force anything down our children’s throats, but that we take every available opportunity to make sure our kids are being taught. If you’re watching a TV programme with your kids, and one of the characters commits a sin but is not punished for it, pause the TV and talk about it! If you can’t pause live TV, make a quick note of it, and bring it up round the dining table. Don’t allow opportunities to pass you by. We’ll press into more practical examples of this as we progress through this series.
I think that Solomon’s main point in this introduction is to heed the advice of those who have more experience than us. His example is of a son and his parents, but I’m sure we could just as easily replace these with a child and his school teacher, or a brand new Christian and her church pastor. It’s tempting for Christians in my generation (in their ‘post-modern’ 18-35s) to think that we need to redefine everything about church; we think that the older generation are stuck in their ways and are not willing to change to engage our peers. We must all approach those who are older, or more experienced, and wiser than we are, and ask questions: ‘Why do you do things that way?’ ‘Why don’t you like my idea to…?’ That way, we have the opportunity to become wise beyond our years.
To finish, it’s really worth saying that this should not be something limited to those who are simply younger/older than one another. While someone older than you may well be wiser, it may be the case that you need to humble yourself and admit that those younger than you may have wisdom you are yet to attain. Whoever you are, seek out those who are wise, and learn everything you can from them.