Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Raising Wise Children

Leslie Basham: If you’re a parent, the Bible teaches that you have the responsibility of training your child about true wisdom. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Your children need to hear you say things like this: “Here are the choices that I made, and here’s what happened. Choices you may not be aware of.” They need your transparency. They’re not looking for you to be perfect. They do need you to be authentic.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, August 20. Think of how many parents sacrifice and how many students struggle to gain an education. Wisdom is worth all that effort. Godly wisdom is even more important. So why don’t more people pursue it like a valuable college degree? Nancy invites you to seek after the wisdom that comes from God.

Nancy: We’re talking about how to become a wise woman. I hope by now that you have a greater desire to be a wise woman. We said in the last session that if you want to be wise, you need to set your heart to become wise. You need to make it a goal to be wise, it won’t just happen by osmosis. We don’t just drift into wisdom. You have to set your heart to pursue wisdom.

Then we said that we need to ask God for wisdom. He’s promised to give wisdom to those who ask Him. Then we pointed out that we get wisdom from the Word of God. It’s the Scripture that makes us wise. I hope that not only during this series but in the days ahead, you will dig into the book of Proverbs in particular and find wisdom there for every part of your life.

Now we need the whole Word of God, but the book of Proverbs particularly gives us practical application of God’s truth to everyday areas of life.

Let me give today several other suggestions about how we can become wise. One is something that you may not have thought of before. I don’t know that I had really thought about it until I started digging into the book of Proverbs recently, but that is consider God’s creation and consider the animal world. You say, “Animals? Trees? They can make us wise?”

Listen to this verse I discovered last night. Job chapter 12, verses 7 and 8, the Scripture says,

Ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.

What in the world are the beasts and bushes and the fish and the birds going to tell us? Well, they were made by God and God has designed them in such a way that by observing these forms of God’s creation we can learn wisdom.

Listen to the book of Proverbs chapter 6, verses 6-8, where Solomon says,

Go to the ant, O sluggard. [Now a sluggard is a person who’s lazy and irresponsible.] Consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.

This is something you may want to teach to your children as you’re trying to teach them diligence and the importance of being industrious and planning ahead. He says look at the ants. They illustrate initiative. They illustrate diligence. They illustrate planning. They don’t have to have someone giving them direction, telling them what to do, looking over their shoulder, telling them to make their bed in the morning. Of course, ants don’t make their bed, but hopefully your children do. As a result of their diligence and initiative, they have plenty to eat.

You see, there’s cause and effect here in life. If you’re diligent, you will have enough to eat. Solomon says look to the animal kingdom to give you illustrations of God’s wisdom.

Proverbs chapter 30, is another chapter that has a lot of references to animals. In that one chapter you have a reference to leaches, eagles, serpents, ants, badgers, locusts, lizards, lions, roosters and goats. All of those animals have something to teach us if we will look at them and learn.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the wonderful three-volume set of books called Character Sketches, produced by the Institute in Basic Life Principles. They’re large, hardbound volumes, and they have character qualities such as attentiveness and diligence and responsibility, that are taught by looking at different animals.

We don’t have those available in our resource center, but we have a link on our website that you can go to if you’d like to order those books or learn more about them.

So consider nature, consider the animal world.

Then if you want to be wise, hang around wise people. Stick with wise people. Seek out wise people. Proverbs 13, verse 20, says,

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

We have some teenage gals here today. I’m always glad to see young women in the audience here. I think one of the most important things I would want to say to you younger women is choose your friends carefully. The people that you spend the most time with, you’re going to become a lot like them. You’re going to pick up their characteristics. He who walks with the wise will become wise, but if you are a companion of fools, you will suffer harm.

The influence of our friends and our companions—this is important, moms, for your children. I’m so thankful that as I was growing up, my parents had wise people in our home. Missionaries, pastors, Christian leaders, businessmen who had a heart for the Lord. I learned so much by listening to adult conversations. Conversations about the Lord. Conversations about life that were wise.

Look for older women to mentor you. Ask them questions. Those of you who are younger married women, look for an older couple who can invest in your life as a younger couple. Do it before your marriage gets in trouble, before you need a marriage counselor. Single women, look for older women whether married or single to invest in your life.

Who are your heroes? Who are the people you walk with? And I don’t mean just literal friends but also the books you read. They’re friends of a type. The magazines you read. The entertainment you choose. Psalm 1 says we will be blessed if we do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, if we do not stand in the way of sinners and if we do not sit in the seat of the scornful. So look at the things and people that are influencing your life. Are they wise?

Then if you want to be wise, solicit and listen to counsel. Wives, get counsel from your husband. Ask him questions. Ask him for input. He may not even be a believer, but God has given him to you for protection. If you want to know what to do and your schedule’s overwhelmed and you can’t handle it all, ask your husband for input. Ask him for counsel. If your husband is a believer, ask him to pray for you. Ask him to pray with you about different issues.

Learn from your parents. Can I just say it is so, so foolish and will have dire consequences if you ignore or reject or resent their counsel. Some of you, your parents are not godly, and they don’t give godly counsel. Can I say first you can still learn a lot from them? You can learn from their mistakes while still honoring them. If your parents can’t put godly input and counsel into your life, then find a godly mentor who can.

I listen to so many young people making decisions, thinking through life and doing this all independently of their parents. There’s a sense that “I know better. It’s my life. I know what I’m going to do.” It’s a foolish person who thinks that way. And can I say particularly as it relates to marriage decisions?

I listened recently to an interview on another Christian broadcast on the subject of domestic violence. There was a marriage counselor, an abuse counselor, and a police sergeant who had dealt with domestic violence for years. They did one whole interview on the importance of single people not marrying the wrong person. Those guests on that broadcast said, “Young people, listen to your parents’ and friends’ counsel when it comes to marriage.”

Then if you want to be wise, learn from the mistakes of others. Observe the consequences in others’ lives of not being wise. Learn from their mistakes. Learn from their failures. I’ve learned so much by watching, for example, older women who have become nagging, negative, critical, complaining, whining women. I look at them and I think, "I don’t want to be that way." You know what? The way I’m wired, I will be that way if I don’t let the Holy Spirit sanctify and transform and change my heart now. Learn from the mistakes of others.

Then learn from your own mistakes. Learn from your own failures. Isn’t it amazing, and you’ve probably seen this how some people repeat the same mistake over and over again. We get letters from people who are on their fourth marriage and they’ve married the same kind of person each time and are still wondering why they have these issues. I’m saying, there’s something they haven’t learned. They haven’t gained wisdom by failures of the past. We all make failures. We sin. We reap consequences. I want to learn from those failures. Learn from those mistakes and grow and become more wise as a result.

Then finally be willing to make tough choices. The wise way is not usually the easy way. Be willing to say no to your flesh, no to your emotions and sometimes even no to well-meaning friends who are not giving counsel that’s according to God’s Word. Being wise requires tough choices. Be willing to make tough choices now keeping eternity in view, thinking about the long run and the day when you will be so thankful that you chose the pathway of wisdom.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be back with the second half of today’s program. She’s been reminding us that godly wisdom is worth pursuing. We spend so much effort on education. How much effort are you spending to learn more about God’s Word?

Let me tell you about a great place to start. Nancy co-wrote a workbook called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival. You’ll understand the Bible better as you’re going through the study because it shows what God’s Word says about a variety of practical topics like forgiveness and maintaining a clear conscience. You won’t just understand it better, but you’ll also start living more wisely.

We’ll send Seeking Him as our thanks when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Now let’s get back to Nancy’s series, The Way of Wisdom.

Nancy: As I’ve been studying the book of Proverbs recently, one of the things that has really stood out to me is that God’s plan is that wisdom should be ideally learned in the context of the home, in the context of our families. God’s plan, God’s ideal, God’s best plan is that parents should train their children to be wise. And that those children should grow up and become wise and then train their children to be wise and they would train their children to be wise.

Now God, in His mercy, provides means that those who did not come up in a godly home can become wise. God brings other people into our lives to supplement the influence and the training of even the wisest parents. That’s God’s way. You can see this illustrated in something that the apostle Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 1.

Now Paul considered Timothy his child in the faith, but Timothy had an input into his life in his home that brought him wisdom before he ever met the apostle Paul. Paul says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).

By the way, notice that Timothy did not have a believing father. So some of you single moms, women married to unbelieving husbands, know that God can use your faith as a believing mom to instill faith in your children. So Paul goes on and says to Timothy,

Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [Who did he learn it from? His mother and his grandmother. You know them; you’ve seen their lives. You know them.] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [that’s the Scripture], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

Where does wisdom come from? From the Word of God. How did Timothy get wisdom? From the earliest childhood he got it from a mom and a grandmom that taught him the Word of God. Over and over and over again in the book of Proverbs we see that parents—fathers and mothers—are to instruct their children.

Solomon uses the phrase “my son” or “my sons” 27 times in the book of Proverbs. Over and over again you’ll see it. Who is he teaching? He’s teaching his son. Now by implication it can include us as well, but he was directly training his son to be wise.

So in this session and the next, I want to just point out several things that those of you who are moms or grandmoms may want to consider as you’re seeking to train your children and grandchildren to be wise.

The first one, which I think is so important, is to model wisdom and obedience. Example is such a powerful thing for better and for worse. In Proverbs chapter 4, verse 11, Solomon says to his son, “I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.” Teaching and leading. Not just what you say, but how you live. The power of example.

I was thinking last night about my own parents and aspects of wisdom and God’s ways that I learned more from their example than from what they said. Things I caught. The list kept growing. I thought of my mother and what I learned from her about hospitality and being a gracious host and receiving people. That’s a biblical principle of hospitality.

What I learned from my parents about generosity, about having the heart of Christ for the lost, for reaching those who don’t know Christ. About discipline, areas of just self-control. We didn’t have a TV in our home and one of the reasons was my dad thought it was important that you not waste time, so we didn’t carry a newspaper. We didn’t have a TV because he wanted us to be purposeful in our use of time.

My dad was very disciplined about getting to bed a night so that he could get up in the morning and meet the Lord. It was a discipline that I saw in his life. Honesty. The devotional life. Again, my dad was such an incredible illustration of starting your day with the Lord.

So the power of your example, and then teach your children out of your life message. Not just model it to them, but teach them out of your life message what you’ve learned about God’s ways from personal experience. Teach them not only out of your successes but also out of your failures.

Your children need to hear you say things like this: “Here are the choices that I made, and here’s what happened. Choices you may not be aware of.” They need your transparency. They’re not looking for you to be perfect. They do need you to be authentic.

Some of you in your past have failed in some significant ways, but you learned through it. You got to know God through it. You developed wisdom through it. Your children need to hear you at certain ages and with appropriate information at appropriate ages say, “This is what God taught me from this and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes. I want you to learn from my example.”

So model wisdom and obedience and then teach your children out of your life message.

And then let me use a passage from Proverbs chapter 1 to illustrate several other principles about teaching your children. Turn in your Bible, if you would, to Proverbs chapter 1, and listen to what this father says to his son. Beginning in verse 10 of Proverbs chapter 1. Solomon says, "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” If sinners entice you, do not consent. That is one principle right there.

Give your children specific instruction. Give them direction. In this case Solomon’s talking to his son about how to deal with peer pressure. If people who are not godly try to get you to do something wrong, don’t go along with it. He’s teaching you about peer pressure.

Elsewhere in Proverbs he teaches about guarding your heart, guarding your eyes, guarding your tongue, staying away from impure women, your sex life, choosing your friends carefully, etc. But then we see in this passage the importance of not just making rules, but instructing and training and teaching your children, explaining the heart of the matter.

I was talking with a mother recently who expressed concern about her young adult daughters on the issue of modesty. I made the comment that’s why it’s so important that daughters be taught when they’re little. That mother’s first response was, “We did.” And then she said something I thought was very perceptive. She said, “Well, maybe we didn’t really teach them, we just told them what they couldn’t wear.”

There’s a big difference there isn’t there. Now you do need to tell them when they’re little what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to wear, but you need to go beyond that and teach them, train them, and instruct them in the heart of the matter.

Then as we go on in Proverbs chapter 1, we see Solomon preparing his son for real life situations. Be creative with your kids. You may want to role play. Solomon says here, if sinners entice you, do not consent. Then verse 11, “If they say . . .” He’s setting up a situation here, a scenario. Suppose someone comes to you and says,

Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason . . . we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse (Proverbs 1:11, 13-14).

He says, “Son, you’re going to face a situation someday that is like this. Here’s what may happen.” He’s trying to prepare his son for real life situations. And then of course he’s going to say, “Don’t walk in the way with those people. Hold back your foot from their paths.” And he’s going to point out the consequences. We’ll come back to that in the next session.

But then as you go through the book of Proverbs, you’ll also see the value of using object lessons and word pictures to help your children connect with the truth. Object lessons and word pictures. You’ll see analogies all the way through the book of Proverbs. A story like the one we just read and the father saying, “Wisdom is like this. Foolishness is like this.”

In fact, if you’ll at some point go to Proverbs chapters 25 and 26, you’ll see a lot of these word pictures in those two chapters. Proverbs 25 and 26, I think there are 24 analogies in those two chapters. Listen to a few of those. Chapter 25, verse 14, and this is a father teaching his son. “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.” There’s a word picture. There’s an analogy.

Like clouds and wind without rain. Well, when you see clouds in the sky and feel the wind coming through, if you’re a farmer, what do you think is getting ready to happen? It’s getting ready to rain. So if the clouds and the wind are there but the rain doesn’t come, the farmer is disappointed. The clouds and wind didn’t fulfill their promise.

This father is saying to his son, like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give. He’s saying those who claim that they will do something but don’t come through, they frustrate others. Don’t promise something you can’t fulfill. So he uses that word picture to plant something in his child’s mind that will help him remember a truth.

Proverbs 25, verse 18, “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.” That’s a vivid word picture. To teach your children when you say something about your brother or your sister or your friend or your teacher that’s not true, it’s like a war club, a sword, or a sharp arrow. What do those things do? They wound. They destroy. You can kill somebody’s character. You can kill somebody’s reputation. Is that what you want to do?

Using a word picture. So next time you’re getting ready to defame somebody’s reputation, they’re thinking club, sword, sharp arrow. That’s what it’s like.

Proverbs 25, verse 28, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” You can explain to your kids how in biblical days cities were protected by these big, tall, strong walls and that if the walls broke down, the enemy could get into the city and could take over. If you don’t have control over your tongue, you don’t have control over your attitude when you’re talking to your mom, if you don’t have control, if you’re not disciplined, you will be vulnerable to the enemy attacking your life. There will be things he can destroy in you.

See how the Scripture uses word pictures, analogies, to teach?

Here’s one more. Proverbs 26, verses 18-19, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!'" It was just a prank. I didn’t mean it. This passage says it’s not a joke. It’s not funny. It’s like a crazy man throwing these dangerous weapons—firebrands, arrows and death—when you do something that is deceptive or dangerous and you say "I was just kidding."

Train your children using word pictures and object lessons.

By the way, let me remind you that we have a resource available through our resource center this week. It’s a wonderful book called Proverbs for Parenting. The subtitle is A Topical Guide for Child Raising from the Book of Proverbs. It comes with a coloring book that your children may enjoy. This book is broken down into topics from the book of Proverbs with just the verses from Proverbs that fit into that topic.

So if you want to teach your children about diligence or quarreling or getting along with your family, there are topics in this book that have verses from Proverbs that you can use. Many of those analogies and word pictures are found in this book as they are found in the book of Proverbs.

I know that many of you moms and grandmoms will want to use this book as a resource to help you as you seek to train your children in the ways of wisdom.

Leslie: Again the book Nancy’s been describing is called Proverbs for Parenting. It will distill biblical wisdom into easy to understand topics that touch on the issues in your life. Get more information by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com or calling 1-800-569-5959.

Every parent needs wisdom, not just to know how to raise our children. We need it so we can pass wisdom on to them. Nancy will talk more about that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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