Every Parent’s Dream

Pastor Doug Stratton – June 25, 2017

proverbs 3:5Proverbs 3:1-26            

My son, do not forget my teaching,

but keep my commands in your heart,

for they will prolong your life many years

and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;

bind them around your neck,

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will win favor and a good name

in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord and shun evil.

This will bring health to your body

and nourishment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,

with the firstfruits of all your crops;

then your barns will be filled to overflowing,

and your vats will brim over with new wine.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,

and do not resent his rebuke,

because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

as a father the son he delights in.[b]

Blessed are those who find wisdom,

those who gain understanding,

for she is more profitable than silver

and yields better returns than gold.

She is more precious than rubies;

nothing you desire can compare with her.

Long life is in her right hand;

in her left hand are riches and honor.

Her ways are pleasant ways,

and all her paths are peace.

She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;

those who hold her fast will be blessed.

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,

by understanding he set the heavens in place;

by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,

and the clouds let drop the dew.

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,

preserve sound judgment and discretion;

they will be life for you,

an ornament to grace your neck.

Then you will go on your way in safety,

and your foot will not stumble.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;

when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Have no fear of sudden disaster

or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,

for the Lord will be at your side

and will keep your foot from being snared.

CCI: Sophia, Wisdom, is available to all who will submit to her teaching.

Intro: 36 years ago, I watched a doctor deliver my first born son. I was amazed at what I saw and stunned as I looked at him rest upon Sheryl’s shoulder for the first time. It was awesome! A month from now, Sheryl and I are looking forward to holding our new born grandson, the son of the baby whose eyes met Sheryl’s for the first time in that operating room. I have at times tried to imagine what the moment of holding my grandson will be like, but I am certain my imagination does not even close to what the moment will actually be. You who are parents and grandparents cling to those memories. And if you are at all like me, you bring those memories to mind in moments of reflection and rest.

This text has pulled those memories to the fore and heightened my excitement of the impending birth. The opening words of the chapter, “My son, do not forget my teaching,” are words I want to speak to that newborn and repeat every time I see him. I want to remind my son of these words. Nothing makes me happier than to hear him voice the values we sought to instill in him. Even though he has put distance between himself and the faith he was raised with, still he holds the values of respect, knowing and doing what is right, common sense, justice, mercy and love. It is my prayer that one day he will return to the faith of his childhood, but until that day, I take pride in the values he learned at that time. And so I am eager to say “My son, do not forget my teaching,” as I look forward to holding his son.

But these times of reflection are the longing to provide direction are not limited to births. Graduation speeches, times of transition, funerals, weddings, moves to a new home, or even anniversaries and birthdays can spark a longing to share the wisdom we have learned throughout our lives.

Here are a few wise statements from father to son: There are many “wise sayings” that dads try to pass on to their kids, show 5 slides.

I wonder if it was at a moment like this when the writer of the Proverb began compiling these sayings of wisdom for his child or grandchild.

The book of Proverbs is a collection of sayings from Israel’s history. Some of those sayings were organized into orderly collections on different topics, like this passage on the primary importance of Wisdom. Others were compiled much more randomly. Some were attributed to King Solomon, others were sayings of other people of wisdom, and many of them were simply statements of good advice, much like “Happy wife, happy life.” . . .

At the center of the book of Proverbs are two symbolic women, one is Wisdom, or in Greek Sophia, the other is the Seductress or the adulterous whose name in Greek may be Peitho, and one of the meanings of Peitho means seduce or tranquillise. In other words, the opposite of living with wisdom is to be tranquilized, to be seduced and lulled into a state that ignores consequences. Peitho seduces the spirit into lethargy, she leads young men into adultery, she empties the accounts of rulers and eventually steals the life of people. Peitho is folly. Wisdom on the other hand, is portrayed in Proverbs as a prophet. She is introduced in chapter 1 with the words, “Wisdom is calling out in the streets and marketplaces, calling loudly at the city gates and wherever people come together.” Wisdom is a teacher, a guide, a protector, who was even present at creation. The picture of wisdom is even echoed in John 1, when John speaks of the LOGOS, or the Word of God.

Marilyn Harris identified Proverbs 3:21-23 as one of her favorite passages of Scripture. I have asked her to share briefly the importance of this passage in her life. . . . Think about the expression common sense. It is not simply what is commonly known, but it is more like the Common Good. It is the ability to think and make decisions with the community in mind. Common sense as used in this context is never about me, it is about the common good of all.

Wisdom and understanding. These twin assets are at the core of developing strong character. Wisdom, knowing and doing what is right, and understanding, using what is often called common sense, will prepare us to face life with confidence and courage, even when we face difficult times. I have known some who would disagree, but I think this text reveals that wisdom and understanding are available to any who would seek them. No matter what your station in life, no matter what your age, no matter what your experience, you can learn wisdom and develop understanding. They are vital assets in our lives. Without Wisdom, without Knowledge or common sense, our lives are without purpose or direction.

Search Institute has identified 40 Assets that both external, in other words, coming from the community and internal, involving motivation, planning, self esteem and purpose. The Assets echo what the writer of the Proverb said many years ago. The External assets we need in our lives center on Support, Empowerment, Boundaries, and Use of Time. Throughout the book of Proverbs, the community is called together to work in just these areas.

Even in this passage, each of these critical elements of growth are highlighted. Support: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Empowerment: “do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you.” Boundaries: “Do not despise the Lord’s discipline because the Lord disciplines those he loves.”

In the same way, the Internal Assets center on Learning, Social Competencies, Positive Values and Positive identity. Once again these are the themes of the Proverbs. In this passage, Positive Values are lifted up for the young person “Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Social Competence is addressed: When you make good decisions you will “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked.”

Parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbors, older siblings, aunts and uncles, teach wisdom and understanding to your children in ways that are age appropriate. Teach little ones the importance of helping others, be role models, encourage others to take responsibility for their own actions. These lessons will begin to teach us and others how to know what is right and do it, and to exercise common sense.

  It really is important. Mohamed El-Erian was a chief executive at PIMCO. He was the head of a $2 trillion dollar investment fund. Then one day he resigned from his position, he gave it all up because of a letter his 10-year-old daughter wrote him. What was in it? A list of 22 milestones that Mohamed had missed in her life so far. The list included: her first day of school, first soccer match, parent-teacher meetings, and a Halloween parade. Mohamed said, “I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-do. But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point … I was not making nearly enough time for her.” He was successful in the eyes of the world, but he was failing at the most important job he had ever been given.

There are so many things we think are important, and yet, we let what is truly important fall by the wayside. Proverbs calls us to cling to Sophia, Wisdom, because it is available to all who will submit to her teaching. And we can teach it to others as we demonstrate wisdom, knowing and doing the right thing, and common sense for the common good when all around are thinking only about themselves.

Now, even though I want to pour wisdom into my grandson later this month, I know that is not possible. But I can plan to teach him values, and show him love, and pray for him, and care for him, and be for him an example of a man of God. But there is a promise in the book of James that is even  more powerful: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. That is how each of us can capture the dream of the father in this passage, Ask God.

And the wisdom that will change our lives and the lives of people around us is found right here:

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;

bind them around your neck,

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will win favor and a good name

in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

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