Series: Wisdom That Works
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 1:8-19 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8).
I think the least talked about of the Ten Commandments is the fifth. We’ve written scores of books and articles about the importance of the fourth commandment. We’ve even developed theologies and end-time scenarios about the fourth commandment.
We’ve also stressed (at least in society) the importance of not killing each other, not stealing, not committing perjury (bearing false witness) and adultery. (Just look at how upset all those people on the Jerry Springer Show get at each other!)
The one commandment that gets the least attention of the ten is the one about honoring our fathers and mothers. This is interesting to me because this particular commandment comes with a promise. The promise is that if I honor my mom and dad (and I’m assuming this is true of all my elders) I will have a long and prosperous life.
Obeying parents is serious business in the Bible. Breaking this commandment in certain circumstances warranted the death penalty. Here’s an uplifting passage from Deuteronomy to remind us all of how important it is to honor our parents:
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-20)
As I look back at my teenage years, I must admit I’m glad that at least some of the law was nailed to the cross.
Listening to the wisdom of our parents/elders will help guide us into success because they’ve been down the roads we’re going down or preparing to go down. They’ve made all the mistakes that we will likely fall victim to as well. Hearing their wisdom can save us from a world of unnecessary pain.
Recalibrate: What wisdom have your parents imparted to you for which you are eternally grateful?
Respond: Whether you have a good relationship with your parents or not, take time today to thank God for your mother and father. Without them, you wouldn’t be here to pray!
Research: Read 6 Practical Ways to Honor Your Parents by Tim Challies.
Remember: “My child, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” (Proverbs 1:10, NIV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
Hold your little one’s face in your hands and say, “Can you hear me?” When their eyes tell you they do, say, “I love you.” The other day, our Zoe had one of those moments where she chose to delight in running away from her mom, giggling as she ran toward a busy street with her mom yelling, “Zoe, stop!” Did we catch her? Yes. Did she get a scolding for running towards the street and for not listening to Mommy? Yes. Not listening to the ones who love us and running towards what will hurt us is what makes the world of love scream out your name and say “stop!” Listen. Know that Jesus longs for you take a moment with Him so He can hold your face in His hands and ask, “Can you hear me? I love you.”
What is something your parents always tell you to do? Could it be to eat your vegetables? Put your dirty laundry in the hamper? Make your bed? Drink enough water? Bring a jacket? Parents usually give their kids a lot of advice, and most of the time it is really good advice that helps us learn and grow. Eating your vegetables does what for your body? It makes it healthy and strong. Putting your dirty clothes in the hamper does what? Makes it easier to clean your room later. Behind every good piece of advice is a reason. Ask your mom or dad to share some advice with you and explain why that advice is so important.
I think we all know the “divide and conquer” strategy when attempting to have a decision go in your way with your parents or guardians. The most common version of this game is to go and ask your mom for something and wait for her to tell you, “no.” Following her orders, you go and ask your dad the same thing you just asked your mom. Inevitably, he will say, “what did you mother say?” Leaving you with the ultimate decision…
To tell the truth. Or lie.
If you’re looking for a quick answer in your favor, the answer is to lie and says, “she said it was okay but she wanted me to check with you.” If you’re looking for a longer strategy that keeps the trust in tact, you answer honestly and tell him that you “ don’t know yet, but you were asked to come ask you.”Usually this will result in your dad saying, “yes” to keep up with what your mom said. But in the end, you’re doing more harm than good to the dynamic of your family relationship as your entire conversation with your dad was built around a lie.
Solomon brings this same idea up in Proverbs chapter one, verse eight when he writes, “hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” Meaning, don’t try and pull a fast one on mom for the sake of doing what your dad told you to do. You need both of them to help you grow up right!
Can you think of any time you tried to split your parents’ decisions in order to get your way? How did it turn out? How did it make you feel to go about your business that way? What are some ways you can adapt your approach so that you are more closely following this proverb in your own life?
Something that I have always struggled with is taking my parents at their word. Even though they are far wiser, have lived longer, and have more life experience than I do, I constantly find myself second guessing them. Growing up, I heard phrases like, “Think before you speak, Emily!” or “Don’t eat your food so fast!” Good advice, right? But I still have a hard time listening and thus applying the advice. And to be honest, I don’t always agree with what my parents say. But the older I get, the more I realize that there is a lot of truth and wisdom in the rules my parents set for me. Now that I am in college, I don’t necessarily have to keep all these rules. I can choose to make an entirely new path. But as I reflect back on the advice of my parents and their guidance, I realize that if I choose to apply their wisdom, the quality of my life will increase. Proverbs 1:8 advises us to listen to our father’s instructions and to not reject our mother’s teachings. I think that this means that whatever our parents say, whether we agree or not, we should listen and not be quick to reject their wisdom.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.