Aug. 27, 2016

Train up a child in the way he should go

Proverbs 22:1-10 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold.
The rich and the poor have a common bond,
The Lord is the maker of them all.
The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it.
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches, honor and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
He who guards himself will be far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.
He who sows iniquity will reap vanity,
And the rod of his fury will perish.
He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.
10 Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out,
Even strife and dishonor will cease.


Some people say that the Bible is old and outdated, that it hasn’t kept up with the changes in our culture and society. Certainly it is true that our current culture does not hold to the same values as God’s, expressed through His Word. The first line from today’s text says:    A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have a common bond, The Lord is the maker of them all.    In our culture there is little that is esteemed above material possessions, money and wealth, yet as the proverb says, the Lord is maker of both rich and poor. He does not discriminate against the poor, nor does He esteem the riches of man. A good name today falls far down the list of valued things. This in part could be due to the break down we see in family structure in our culture. If there is no identity in a name, there is little value. Fatherless children and children with siblings who have varied names are less likely to identify with and value a good name.

As mentioned in yesterday’s reflection, Psalm 89:14 says:   Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You.       Truth is one of the foundational attributes or qualities of God and of His Word. Jesus says:   "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)   John 1:14 says of Jesus:   the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.      Jesus, God and the Bible are truth. They also are eternal, everlasting and unchanging. As our culture, our society has moved away from God and His Word it has then moved away from truth. There is no longer right and wrong, good and evil. Everything becomes relative and open to the interpretation of the individual. This is not a new tendency. It was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah thousands of years ago.      Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)  So while it is not new, certainly in our present culture and society, we see it progressing rapidly in that direction. The world says man is evolving, becoming a higher form, but in truth we are becoming more base, acting in ways even animals would not. We selfishly engage in whatever feels good, whatever seems right for ourselves. Rather than nurture and love our children, we neglect them, we abuse them and abort them.

The text today says:    Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.     While our culture and society try to devalue and discredit the Word of God, without admitting it they hold this truth very dearly. There is a struggle which began quietly at first, but continues to become more evident, more obvious, more direct and so, more ominous, over who will “train up” our children. More and more the government, with its anti-God values, is usurping the responsibility for the care, nurture and training (indoctrination) of our children. Though they may not admit it, they know that the principle stated in the proverb is true and they want to be the one who train and influence the opinions and so the character of our children. This only farther devalues the identity that younger generations have with the previous ones. Rather than being taught to respect and value older people and their wisdom, young people today are told they need to enlighten their parents. One of God’s first commandments to the nation of Israel was:    “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. (Exodus 20:12) As children are taught to dishonor their parents, they lose the legacy they have in their heritage, they become the self seeking children of those who have trained them up. All of this though is not the fault of the government and the educational system, they are simply filling a void which parents themselves have left. In God’s order parents would hold to their responsibility to love, nurture and teach their children. In Deuteronomy 11:18-21 God instructs His people saying:    “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,  so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.  We are the ones responsible for the future promise of our children.

Today’s text ends saying:    Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, Even strife and dishonor will cease.    There are those who will scoff at our values, our faith and even at the truth of God’s Word. The truth is we cannot change their minds. We will not be able to convince them of God’s truth and wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says:     For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.      1 Corinthians 3:18-20 says:   If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”     So we will not convince scoffers to change their minds with our words and debate. The truth of God’s Word can only be revealed by the Spirit of Truth. We cannot drive the scoffer out of our society and entirely out of our lives. They will be there. They will scoff and mock. We though can choose to leave contention aside. We can choose to set ourselves apart from the scoffers, to ourselves follow, hold to and value God’s Word, His wisdom and truth. If we choose to live as God calls us to live, according to His principles and His truth, contention, strife and dishonor will cease.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, the Way the Truth and the Life and precious Holy Spirit, my guide; regardless of what the world, the current culture says and does, I choose to follow You. I choose to live according to Your unchanging truth. I choose to honor the good name that You have given me as Your child. There is nothing more I could ever need than to be Your beloved child. Help me to live in the fullness of the name and heritage I have in You. In the name that is above all names, the name of my Lord and Savior, the name of Truth, I pray.    Amen