“A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke…Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 13:1; 19:20-21)
One of our most insidious problems as sinful humans is to see ourselves as the center of our world. Defining ourselves by our feelings or thinking that everything is always about us traps us in a false sense of importance and security. When I trust my intense feelings or gut feelings for the basis of my decisions and choices I am doomed to stay stuck in a cycle of unrealistic expectations and disappointments (in myself, others, and even God). Unbelief in the sovereignty of God not only characterizes non-Christians but affects believers. Even righteous Job thought he knew what life was about based on his viewpoint and understanding. But look at what God said: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7) It is always God’s purpose that stands regardless of our ideas or plans. This doctrine compels us to remember that our instruction for our children is only useful in the purposes of the Lord, to bring them to the knowledge of Christ, in his timing and by his power, and use them for his glory.
As we discipline our children, we should be cognizant of the fact that their self-control and eternal security will not only help them to grow in wisdom but also affect society positively for Christ. If we are obsessed with ourselves, our feelings, and our plans, they will imitate our myopic view of the world. But if we are God-centered and other-centered, they will learn that life isn’t just about them. Either they will be glad to receive instruction and training or they will scoff at it; they will become future mentors or gluttons—living for God or living for themselves. Anthony Selvaggio comments: “When a foolish, undisciplined child grows into a foolish, undisciplined adult, the circle of trouble widens. Such adults often go through life towing havoc behind them, and are incapable of influencing society in the direction of anything except shallowness and corruption. Raise a fool, send him or her out into the world, and you have harmed more than your child. You have incrementally damaged your entire culture. Therefore, a second motivation for faithfully disciplining our children is to help fulfill the command to love my neighbor as I love myself (Luke 10:27).”
Knowing that the secret will of God is hidden from us, do you trust the Lord to use your instruction for their good and for the good of all those whom they influence? “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) Rather than struggle to control our children’s future, let’s work on helping them appreciate Scriptural wisdom, for their good and for all those who will know them. Do your children seek wisdom?
* Selvaggio, Anthony, A Proverbs Driven Life,” on Proverbs 13:24 (Shepherd Press, 2011)