Bedrock Principles for Parents and Children
By Scott Chandler
Proverbs 1:8-19 (English Standard Version)
8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
9 for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
As a parent, it is very tempting to give your children a rousing “I told you so!” When you read Proverbs 1:8-9, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8-9, ESV). This, of course, is not the way to deal with children, but the wisdom of these words cannot be overlooked. But what is the Bible talking about with these words and what are we responsible for teaching our children?
This passage that ends in verse 19 has two bedrock principles that both parents and children must apply to their lives if they want to live a successful life in this world, all the while looking forward to being with our Savior in heaven. Let’s take a look at them both for encouragement and understanding.
The first principle we must consider is one summed up in the age old adage, “You will become like the people you associate with.” My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10, ESV). This is a warning that every Christian must take seriously. As adults, we know that whoever we spend the most time with has the biggest influence on our lives. We are surrounded by people who do not know the Lord, without the same values we have, and like it or not, they will consciously attempt to get you to sin with them. People say that adulting is hard. Well, add the desire to be pleasing to God to the equation and adulting is downright exhausting work!
If we, as adults, think this is difficult, how much harder must it be for our children? I look at the temptations my children and grandchildren have to face every day and it staggers my mind! When we try to tell kids to not hang out with the wrong kind of people, it is fair that they ask why. This is where Proverbs gives real insight into the consequences that come with making those bad choices.
The second principle covered in this passage is the importance of avoiding the temptation to amass money, and to get it any way possible (Pro 1:10-19). The desire for money can drive people to do things no one would think possible, up to killing people. As Paul points out, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10, ESV)
As adults, it is our responsibility to never let our desire for financial security override our biblical priorities. Money is necessary for us to function in this society, but the love and craving for money and things will drive anyone to associate with people who promise riches, no matter how they could be gained.
How are we doing dealing with toxic people around us? Are we falling into the satanic trap of needing more toys, wishing for a bigger house, wanting a better car? Here’s how to avoid all of that: Spend your time with people who do not hold those values and studiously avoid those who do.
And let your children know you are doing this. Talk to them about money around the dinner table. Show them how you are dealing with the family budget and how you are making decisions to honor God. When you are tempted to go into debt because “we can afford the payments,” explain to them how this can have long term consequences for the whole family. We all know that our children learn much more from what they watch us do rather than what we say, but both are essential to living a life that brings honor and glory to our God.
The bottom line for both ourselves and our children is to listen to good advice from our elders, associate with those who honor God, and flee from temptation. The dire warning that God gives to those who refuse to listen is “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors”(Proverbs 1:19, ESV). Let us pray that we will heed what God says so our children will have a godly example to follow.