On Instructing Your Children Part 3

22 Nov

What should a father teach his children?

One place to look answer that question is the book of Proverbs. Over the next several posts, I want us to look at ten of main lessons from Proverbs that you as a parent have the responsibility of teaching your children.

1. You need to teach your children the fear of the Lord.

This may be one of the most important things you can teach your children.

Because Solomon says in Proverbs 1:7 that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

If your children are going to know anything about this world truly, they have to start here with a proper perspective towards God.

Now I think some might hear I need to teach my children to fear God and think it sounds funny to say you need to teach them this because we think of fear first as an attitude and obviously you can’t make your child have an attitude of reverence towards God, what I mean is you can’t get in his heart and change it and cause it to feel a certain way about God but the thing is the fear of the Lord is not only an attitude it’s also knowledge, it’s truth about God.

In fact in Psalm 34:11, the Psalmist says, come and I will teach you the fear of God and he can say that because in places like Psalm 19, the fear of the Lord is a term that is synonymous with the law of God and the statutes of God and the commandments of God.

What you can do and must do as a parent is teach your children who God is and what God demands of them! You need to show them that God is king and you need to teach them God’s laws. You need to teach them what a right attitude toward God looks like. You need to teach them to take God seriously.

How do you do that?

*By making sure that you fear God yourself, and not just at church, but throughout the week, that you know who God is and you are in awe of Him yourself.

*By teaching them God’s law, and by taking God’s law seriously, and showing them the consequences of disobedience and even continually holding up God as the final authority in your home.

*By as your children grow, talking to your children even about the wrath of God. This is a serious subject and you want to talk about it in the right way, but it is real.

*By helping your children understand what was happening at the cross and by showing your children the great love of God as He poured out His punishment on His son.

2. You need to teach them to value wisdom.

Now what I mean is you need to teach your children to use their minds and think and you need to teach them to want to work at using their minds to think in a wise ways about their life.

Many of us have lazy minds. We don’t want to think hard. We would rather just watch television all day or play video games or something.

And I think that is why right after the writer of Proverbs talks about the fear of the Lord, in verse 8 of chapter 1 he says hear and it is amazing as you read through Proverbs how often he says that. Listen. It is because he knows that children often have a hard time putting their minds to work at listening and so what he has to do is teach his children to do that.

You need to teach your children to engage their minds. You need to expect them to listen to truth and to think about truth. If you don’t, many of them won’t.

And one way the writer of Proverbs does that is by reminding them constantly of the value of wisdom. The whole end of the first chapter is wisdom crying out and explaining the value of obtaining wisdom and also giving warnings as to what will happen if they don’t.

It’s not enough just to get your children to do the right things, you want them to learn to think the right way and so you want to keep holding out in front of them how precious wisdom and how dangerous it is to be foolish.

You need to lovingly challenge them to make being wise the greatest priority in their life. I think of how in the second chapter Solomon actually describes for his son how hard and how serious he should be about thinking in wise ways. He says make your ear attentive, incline your heart to understanding, call out for insight, raise your voice for understanding, seek it like silver.

It’s not just that you want your children to think, you want them to learn to think in wise ways, and what I am saying is that as a parent you need to step up and challenge your children to do that.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about working with your children to listen when the Scripture is being taught. Now when they are one or two or three, obviously that’s difficult, but you better start with them when they are that young and what you can do is just begin training them in the home when you have your family devotions.

We will sit down with our little children and I expect them to put their toys away and listen while we talk about God’s Word. Now I don’t expect them to listen for an hour and half sermon, but for five or ten minutes, you better believe it. And I check if they are listening by asking simple questions throughout and then when they are not listening I challenge them on the importance of listening and thinking by talking to them about the value of wisdom.

Then do what Solomon does, show them how to apply biblical truth to everyday situations in life. As you make decisions, don’t just make the decisions, talk to your children about why you made that decision, ask them questions about what they would have done differently and why.

Or if they are going to make their own decision or if they are struggling with something in their own life, don’t just tell them what to do or if they make a bad decision, don’t just smack them on the head and tell them they are idiots, but take the time and begin working through with them why they did what they did, what was the result of that choice, where there error in thinking was, how they might have done things differently.

You say this is a lot of work, yes, but if you love your children you will pursue this with all you have got because the lifelong benefits of being wise far surpass the benefits of anything else you could ever give them.

Do you believe that? Can I just challenge you that if you are going to help your children think and think wisely, you need to work yourself at valuing wisdom. Please! If you are just going through life and not trying to apply the Scriptures to your own life, don’t expect that your children will, you are making life so much harder for them.

What’s more, can I just say this too? If you want your children to think and value wisdom, please, sometimes, turn the television off? If you just let your children sit there and watch television all the time you are literally training them to turn their brains off and you are allowing them to stuff their heads full of nonsense.

One more, just for free, but don’t just send your children to school and let them do their homework by themselves, but get involved, have times throughout the week where you ask them what they learned, where you work with them on their homework, where you help them sort through what’s happening at school.

3. You need to teach your children how to pick their friends.

One of the greatest influences on where your child goes and who your child becomes are their friends.

Paul says, bad company corrupts good morals.

And it is obvious the writer of Proverbs recognizes this because this is pretty much where he begins instructing his son in verses 10-19 of chapter 1.

He spends all those verses giving specific instruction to his son on the kind of friendships to avoid, to the point he even talks about the kinds of things those friends will say to him and why what they are saying is foolish and he should reject it.

Now I think one of the challenges that we face is that there aren’t many good kinds of friends out there for our children all the time, and our children want friendships and even need friendships, and so what do you do about that, there’s a lot you can do.

One thing you can do is be a good friend to your child and seek to create good friendships within the family. Do things with your children. Do fun things with your children. Make plans just to enjoy them and think about ways to do things that they enjoy, but do it together. Don’t always just send the kids off over there to do there own thing, at least some of the time, you go with them and you do things with them. Help your children learn to enjoy each other. Don’t just sit back. Help them learn to look out for and love each other. If one our children somehow decided they didn’t like one of our other children, I wouldn’t just sit back and accept that; no man you got to get in there and help them learn to care for one another.

But also another thing you can do is teach them how to be a good friend. I remember where one young man who went to school, and at first, at that school everybody was just a goof; but his parents wouldn’t let him just sit back, they helped him step up and develop intentional friendships with people and over time, by the end of his time there, he had some good friends. When it comes to this, one of the things you want help your child tell the difference between, is between someone who is just a fool and someone who is maybe simple and doesn’t know better. There’s a big difference between the two, and it’s true there may not be many wise people at their schools but there may be some people who would change if your child would take the lead and be an intentional kind of friend to them.

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