If we expect our children to listen to us, then we need to make sure we listen to the LORD! Proverbs is a wonderful source of wisdom and discretion. We need to make sure this book is providing direction for us as we seek to direct our families.
Wisdom and discretion must be actively pursued; however, eventually these abstract ideas will constrain us to follow a path of proven success when it comes to parenting. The application of principles for parenting from the Word of God takes discipline. Wisdom and discretion are the tools that keep us from falling into sin, but they also provide sweet rest in our souls (Proverbs 3.21-24). The daily anxiety and worry we experience on our jobs dissipates the more we lay hold of wisdom and allow wisdom to lay hold of us.
Even the major crises of life require a steadfast confidence in the LORD’s ability to deliver us (Proverbs 3.25-26). The only real way to weather a major storm is to prepare ahead of time. The daily habit of reading the Word of God and talking to your heavenly Father will provide everything you need to be the dad you ought to be. He alone keeps us from being ensnared by our independence.
We need to know what to do and what not to do! Proverbs 3.27-32 lists five commands stated in the negative:
1. Don’t withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. If we withhold good things from others when we have good things to give, our Father considers this selfishness and covetousness.
2. Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go and come back, and tomorrow I will give it” when you have it with you. Give at the precise moment the need arises. If we fail to follow this advice, it leads to unnecessary bitterness in those we owe. Good is due to those we owe. The temptation is to use what we have on ourselves instead of paying our debts. This is dishonest.
3. Don’t devise evil against your neighbor, for he dwells by you for safety’s sake. Your neighbors should trust you. If you abuse the confidence of the people close to you as a believer, you bring cause for the enemies of Christ to blaspheme His name. Allow your influence as a godly dad to instill confidence in your neighbor!
4. Don’t strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm. Does this mean you can strive with a man when you have a cause (see Hebrews 12.14 and Colossians 3.12-13)? We need more peace, gentleness, humility, and longsuffering in the men of our community. That’s the kind of man God wants you to be.
5. Don’t envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways; for the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, but His secret counsel is with the upright. It is a strong temptation for dads to use oppression and aggressive authority to bring their wills to pass in the home. But as partakers of eternal life, we cannot envy the methods of the temporal wickedness around us.
My burden for fathers is that they would apply the principles of Scripture not just keep precepts. That is, we must broaden out Scriptural mandates so that they become daily practice. If Jesus intensified the laws of the Old Testament, He has certainly by His grace enabled us to do the same!