Survival Tip #2: Honor

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 6/28/2020
Family  Proverbs  Wisdom 

We have an extraordinarily urgent, and burdensome responsibility—one that is as old as time itself. How can we pass wisdom, knowledge, and understanding from one generation to the next? You might wonder why we have a Bible, or why we have thousands of Proverbs. It’s because our forefathers assumed responsibility to pass on not just their faith, but The Faith, to all of us. Passing our faith on to our children is not only the single most important responsibility we have—it’s the single most challenging responsibility we have.

When you read Proverbs please understand. It’s not just a book stocked full of wisdom. It’s also a book that “models” and that is a “case study” of how one generation passes the torch to the next generation. If you’ve accepted our 31 days challenge to read through the Proverbs, look no further than Proverbs 1:8, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching, for they will be a garland of favor around your head and pendants arounds your neck.”

That phrase, “Listen my son” may be three of the most significant (and oft repeated) words in all of Proverbs. These same words echo God’s plea to his son Israel, “Hear, O Israel.” “Listen my son” also implies “Listen my daughters.” And its not just father, but also the mother’s teaching that is view. The essences of the commandment, “Honor your father and mother” is “listen to them… hear them out.”

The commandment to honor implies both a willing speaker and a willing hearer. The parent cannot be passive; the child cannot be passive. In a race, the first runner must stretch his hand forth extending the baton. The second runner must simultaneously reach back to receive the baton. The ONLY way our faith, and THE FAITH gets passed is with one generation speaking forth, and the next generation listening, hearing, . . . reaching back to learn, receive, understand!

Here is our problem. Parents have outsourced their responsibilities to the public schools, to children’s/youth/sports programs, to colleges and universities, to cable television, Netflix, Google and Amazon, Alexa, Siri, the mass media, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, even the church. Big surprise. These third parties haven’t handed your children your faith, or THE FAITH. Their handing your your children a Trojan Horse. Your children have been given the foolishness of men, not the wisdom of God.

Pick a topic. Can you argue that your children been taught to fear God well by third parties? They have more fear of Science than of God!

Have your children been taught to love, respect, listen, humble themselves, and honor their father/mother? This generation has little honor for previous generation. Just the opposite, they are sitting in judgement on their parents.

Have your children learned to form godly, supportive, edifying friendships? Many parents are hardly aware of who their children are associating with and being influenced by.

Have they been taught how to properly/wisely handle wealth? Without wisdom future generations are extremely susceptible to exploitation. They’ll clamor to any person or ideology offering a hint of financial benefit/security.

What about sexuality? Have they been taught properly about gender (i.e. that God made us male or female)? What about proper gender roles (i.e. that gender roles are God designed and not just a social construct)? What about God’s design of marriage (one man + one woman for lifetime)? What about God’s desire for husbands/wives to produce godly offspring in a stable, faithful, safe, healthy loving home? Children are taught that its shameful to have large families—that this world cannot sustain a greater human footprint. Sex is only for pleasure. Better to abort than procreate.

Have your children been instilled with a strong sense of personal responsibility, to live lives of integrity and sacrificial generosity? Have they been taught the true nature of justice and fairness and truth? Have they been taught how to exercise greater personal discretion, to have self-control, to act and speak wisely, and constructively?

The most shocking thing we’ve experience in 2020 is to realize that while we were off being busy in the world, outsourcing our responsibilities to strangers, our children has been taught to hate their fathers and mothers. What was being whispered in the halls of academia. What was being quietly absorbed behind glowing screens. It’s now shouting and screaming in the streets. The streets are ablaze not with wisdom, but with folly. Surprise. This generations faith is not our own, nor is it THE FAITH we we’re given.

Proverbs 3:1-2, “My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being. Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people.” Is this next generation finding favor and high regard with God/ people?

If we are not speaking forth our faith, The Faith, wisdom, knowledge and understanding… the next generation has nothing to reach back and take hold of. If you have not personally offered anything forth you really cannot complain that nothing has been received. More often than not, children reach back to their parents but they find so little being extended!

This is why Proverbs is so powerful. Every pithy Proverb is a Father’s loving attempt to speak forth wisdom in a compelling way! Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones. 9 Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; 10 then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine. 11 Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe his discipline; 12 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.”

Who do you trust to teach your children to trust God, if not yourself? You can’t abdicate this responsibility. It’s your duty to raise godly offspring. You are accountable before God to fulfill your part. I want to outline a parent’s obligation, and the obligation of each generation to the next, as laid out in Proverbs. I will share some things but I think you will need to circle back later, download this manuscript from our website, and reflect more deeply upon these principles.

Principle #1: Assume Your Responsibility. Passing your faith unto your children is not child abuse. If anything is child abuse, its letting strangers, it’s letting political partisans, it’s letting the godless, wicked, and evildoers, indoctrinate your children with folly! As you journal through proverbs take a pen and underline every command the Father gives his son. My son, “Listen.” “Do. . .” “Don’t. . .” “Choose to fear the Lord.” “Accept my words.” “Store up my commands within you.” “Keep my commands” “Seek wisdom like searching for silver or hidden treasure.” “Don’t forget my teaching.” Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” “Honor the Lord with your possessions.” “Maintain sound wisdom and discretion.” “Don’t say. . .” “Don’t plan any harm.” “Don’t accuse” “Don’t envy” “Get wisdom.” “Get understanding.” “Don’t forget or turn away from the words of my mouth.” “Guard your heart.” “Don’t turn to the right or the left; keep your feet away from evil.” (best political advice ever). If you aren’t going to instill wisdom into your children, who will? If we don’t extend wisdom can we really complain the next generation lacks it?

I really love Proverbs 4:1-9. “Listen, sons, to a father’s discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding, 2 for I am giving you good instruction. Don’t abandon my teaching. 3 When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother, 4 he taught me and said, “Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding; don’t forget or turn away from the words from my mouth. 6 Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. 7 Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. 8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you. 9 She will place a garland of favor on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty.” This reminds me of what Paul said in one of his Epistles, “What I received I passed unto you as a matter of first importance. . .”

Principle #2: Shepherd the Heart. The most short-cited thing we can do is to always focus on behavior. The heart is the wellspring, the source. Even Jesus said that out of the heart comes all evil. Proverbs 4:20-23, “My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s body. Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” You must shepherd (and not ignore) what your child loves, and values, and cherishes, and loves, and admires, and focuses upon, and gives energy to, and laughs at or mocks or even ridicules.

Principle #3: Correct with Discipline. The goal of parenting, the true nature of morality, is to connect the dots of cause and effect. The Bible says “God will not be mocked, a man reaps what he sows.” With great freedom comes great responsibility. If every choice in life had an immediate, tangible, 100% certain result we’d all learn very fast. But many choices have a future, intangible, uncertain consequence. For example, if you don’t wear a mask you could get Covid-19. You will immediately? You will certainly? You will tangibly? Well no. It might be later. It might be never. You might be asymptomatic.

If children don’t see an immediate, certain, tangible consequence their apt to blow off wisdom. So then what do you do? That’s were discipline and correction enter into the picture. Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 13:1, “A wise son responds to his father’s discipline, but a mocker doesn’t listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:24, “The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Why do you spank a child? Because you love them? Because that immediate, certain, tangible swat on their rear-end is infinitely more tender than running out in the road and getting smacked by car.

Physical disciplining, correcting, rebuking your children is not child abuse. The absence of discipline, warning is true child abuse. It’s unlikely a child will respect God’s authority, or any authority, if they don’t first respect yours. Proverbs 23:13-14, “Don’t withhold discipline from a youth; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die (he may think he will, but he won’t!). Punish him with a rod, and you will rescue his life from Sheol.” See how quickly that escalates? Discipline don’t just spare a child potentially from tragic death… but from hell itself! How unloving to let a child die. How unthinkinable to let a child go to hell.

Principle #4: Build Strong Confidence. The whole cornerstone to confidence isn’t teaching a child self-esteem—it’s teaching them righteousness. Our confidence isn’t found within ourselves, its found in fearing God. Proverbs 14:26, “In the fear of the Lord on has strong confidence and his children have refuge.”

When a child is presented with a moral dilemma he first looks within. His heart deceives him. Then he looks to his peers for cues about what he should do. Then culture. The child becomes like a reed blowing in the wind. But you’re your child fears God, he knows with clarity the choice he should make, the path he should take, the words he should speak, the actions he must do. Instead of judging for himself among an array of choices he settles the matter confidently seeking to do what is pleasing to God.

Principle #5: Start Right Now. Proverbs 22:6, “Start a youth out on his way, even when he grows old he will not part from it.” What way should you start him down? You know the answer!

Principle #6: Be Clever, Creative, and Clear. Proverbs 23:16, “My innermost being will celebrate when your lips say what is right.” Speak clearly! Be clever. Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wise make knowledge attractive.” We have to make righteousness more attractive than the world makes sin. For entertainment the world mocks righteousness, but in proverbs the father mocks foolishness with creative, humorous, pithy flair.

I’ve got to stop. Parents there is much work to be done. We have an extraordinarily urgent, and burdensome responsibility before us. But it’s not an impossible one. Let’s get about the work of instilling the fear of God in this next generation. Pass the baton.


Scripture Verses

Proverbs 1:8; 3:1-12; 4:1-9; 4:20-23; 12:1; 13:1,24; 14:26; 22:6; 23:6,13-14

Worship Playlist

Exalted One by Elevation

A Million Saints by Meredith Andrews

This I Believe (The Creed) by Hillsong

Christ Be Magnified by Cody Carnes

Study Questions

  1. What are some of the results of honoring or dishonoring your parents?
  2. How are honor and humility related?
  3. How is honor taught to or caught by the next generation?

Apply It!

Resources

Our In the Wilderness sermon series booklet provides a place for sermon notes, questions for reflection, and a challenge to read through the book of Proverbs in 31 days. You may pick up a booklet at Lakeside on Sunday mornings or weekdays between 8:00 am & 4:00 pm.