Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs so his son could hear good teachings. But it’s not just for Solomon’s kids.
Like most wise sayings, the sayings in Proverbs are as applicable for 2018 as they were for 1000 BC. They apply to our children as much as they did for Solomon’s.
And this wisdom is not just for kids. It is for God’s children of all ages, including us.
As we dive into Proverbs 20-23 this week, pick out a few themes that resonate with you. Here are four themes I’ve chosen. They weave in and out of the whole book, but in particular these four chapters.
1. Follow good advice
We often tell our children, “Don’t just follow your peer’s advice; listen to those who are older and wiser!” So it should be with us, too.
“Be sure you have sound advice before making plans or starting a war.”
Proverbs 20:18 (CEV)
We also saw this in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Are you making a decision? Forming plans? Weighing options? Don’t just use your own judgment. Follow Solomon’s advice and seek out many trusted advisers.
2. Avoid faulty shortcuts
A parent can usually tell when their child has taken a shortcut to finish a job: the dishes aren’t really clean, the bed isn’t completely made, the elbows are still dirty.
As adults, we’re also prone to taking shortcuts. And while some shortcuts are healthy and wholesome, others can lead us into shortened blessings as well.
We hear advice several times in Proverbs 21 to be diligent and patient, not lazy and hasty.
“If you plan and work hard, you will have plenty; if you get in a hurry, you will end up poor.”
Proverbs 21:5 (CEV)
Even though it takes longer and might be harder, do the right thing the right way. It will be worth it in the long run.
3. Help the poor
Proud is the parent who sees their child share with a friend. We want our kids to be generous with what they have. But are we setting the example for them?
If there’s a message that God stresses over and over in both the Old Testament and the New, it is to love other people. Give to the poor. Take care of the needy.
Here is it in Proverbs 22.
“Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor.”
Proverbs 22:9 (MSG)
Solomon also reminds us in chapter 22 that the Lord is the maker of both the rich and poor person (v 2). He says that oppressing the poor to increase our own wealth leads to poverty (v 16) and that exploiting the poor will lead to our own plunder (v 23).
Who do we see that are poor (it doesn’t have to be financially) and how are we being generous with our blessings?
4. Know your limits
“Don’t bite off more than you can chew” is a modern-day proverb we may have heard as kids. And that we say to ourselves even as adults. We all have limits and those boundaries need to be respected.
Solomon tells us in Proverbs 23:
“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself!”
Proverbs 23:4 (MSG)
Our desire for more, more, more can lead to disaster, both monetarily, physically, and spiritually. Living within proper boundaries isn’t always easy. We’re naturally drawn to desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions (1 John 2:16).
But these things of the world will all pass away. Whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).
By having the wisdom to use restraint with our desires, we can live a more abundant life both now and later.
Perhaps we didn’t really learn everything we need to know in kindergarten, but we probably learned more than enough to lead a godly life.
The key is to live it out with God’s help. The next time we are tempted to give advice to youngsters, let’s follow it first ourselves.
Which of these four lessons do you need the most this week (follow good advice; avoid shortcuts; help the poor; know boundaries)? Please share in the comments.
Our series so far:
- Printables for Studying Proverbs
- Proverbs 1-2 – Wisdom for Today
- Proverbs 3-5 – Who Is Wisdom?
- Proverbs 6-7 – Practical Warnings
- Proverbs 8-9 – Wisdom Is Calling You
- Proverbs 10-12 – Contrast Between Right and Wrong
- Proverbs 13-16 – Give Attention to the Word
- Proverbs 17-19 – Wisdom for Relationships
- Proverbs 20-23 – 4 Life Lessons for Kids of All Ages