Bible Reading for: September 19
A loving godly father is the drill sergeant his family needs him to be. Drill them in solid biblical knowledge and practice so when its needed, they’ll be ready.
Over and over again you will hear in Proverbs something like this:
Proverbs 6:20 ESV
“My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”
Do you understand the assumption this kind of statement makes? Fathers and mothers are to teach their children the way they should go. This is a solemn responsibility. Whenever I hear the word “stewardship” it is almost always attached to the issue of money. I feel strongly that the use of this concept solely in regard to money is a travesty for us all. We are, of course, to be good stewards of money. The concept of tithing is based on the understanding that everything comes from God, and that we should be good stewards of what He places in our charge. We are not our own; we are His. We were bought at a price, and now He places a great deal in our care with the intention that we manage what is His well.
Money is only one of the things He has placed in our care. Yes, we need to manage money in such a way that we glorify God. One measure of that is tithing. If you are in over your head, and thus unable to tithe, you have been a poor steward of money. God has also given us skills, abilities, and talents that He intends for us to use in the building of His kingdom. If we are too busy to do our Master’s business, then we are not good stewards of these gifts.
Are not our children also gifts from God? Are we not to be good stewards of them as well? Here in Proverbs, it is assumed that we understand this, and in fact, instruct our children as the good stewards we are supposed to be. Do you leave the spiritual growth of your children in the hands of Sunday School workers? Our Sunday School workers do a fabulous job on Sunday. Who is doing that job the other 6 days of the week? Do you feed your child’s body once a week? Why would we only feed our child’s spirit once a week? To do so is to be a poor steward.
I have facilitated a couple of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University courses at our church over the years and I’m reminded of what Dave said during one of the sessions. He said that there are 31 Proverbs, and that he reads one a day. I hadn’t stopped to think about the fact that the Proverbs divide up so nicely on a monthly basis. I would like to suggest that if you aren’t doing any kind of daily family devotional, that you start doing so right away. I would also suggest that if you don’t have a resource for doing so, that you start by reading a Proverb a day with your family and discussing the truths contained therein. I would do this month after month after month.
Now I know we all like variety, and that we may fear we will get bored and tune out, and I’d like to address that concern. I understand that when you join the military, you go through what they call “Boot Camp”. During this time, they drill into the head of every new recruit the basics of military conduct and life. These recruits are drilled by a “Drill Sergeant”. Why do they call it drill? Because they go over it and over it and over it until it is “drilled” into their heads. Why do they do that? Because the soldier’s life is in the balance. When the bombs start falling, and the bullets start whizzing by, and your buddy’s head is blown clear off his shoulders, you are going to do something stupid unless the proper response has been so drilled into you so that you respond automatically to what is going on around you. I’ve heard it said many times by brave men who saved others by their actions on the battlefield, “My training just kicked in.”
Now I don’t want to suggest that you need to act like a drill sergeant with your kids, yelling at them to keep them awake and engaged, but you do need to play the role of a drill sergeant in a more general sense by ensuring that these times of training are engaging. You may have to get creative over time. You may need to find innovative ways to illustrate a point. You may have to make a game out of a lesson, or tell a joke, or have everyone do some kind of funny “audience participation” exercise. It sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? No one ever said being a father would be easy. No one ever said that being a good steward would be easy. Nonetheless, it is our job and we need to make it a priority.
Now, what if you never had a good fatherly example? There are many grown men who did not receive the kind of training the Bible assumes. What now? You can’t go back, but all is not lost. You see, your Heavenly Father has been training you all along, and He has provided you with your own training manual, the Bible. Proverbs, to my mind, is boot camp. You can start reading a Proverb every day and put yourself through the training. This is a bit of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”, but God is there to help you pull. Listen to what Proverbs 4 has to say:
Proverb 4:20-27 ESV
“My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.”
These are the words of a father to his son. These are the words of God to you. Brothers, we must guard our hearts with ALL vigilance, for from it does indeed flow the springs of life. It is in our heart where Jesus lives. Will you have Him live in a sewer? Guard your mouth and your eyes. Guard your feet and make sure they turn neither to the left nor to the right. Drill this into your head, and the heads of your children, until it is second nature, so when the bombs and bullets are dropped and fired by the enemy, that training will kick in.
Proverbs 5:21-23 ESV
“For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.”
The word “discipline” has the same root as “disciple”. It isn’t simply about punishment. In fact, I would argue that punishment has nothing to do with discipline. The reason to spank a child is not to punish him, but to discipline him. It is to show him the error of his ways; to show him that there are negative consequences attached to poor choices. It is not the only tool of discipline, and, in fact, should be used in very specific situations, and under very controlled and specific conditions. The bulk of discipline is guiding, teaching, and correcting, kind of like the method Christ used with the Disciples.
Do not die for lack of discipline my brother, and do not let your children die of the same lack. You have a job to do. Get to it!
Victorem Vivere! (Live Victorious!)
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!