Protection

Posted on April 21, 2008 · Posted in Communication, Parenting, Teenagers, Toddlers

20 My son, keep your father’s commands
       and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

21 Bind them upon your
heart forever;
       fasten them around your neck.

22 When you walk, they
will guide you;
       when you sleep, they will watch over
you;
       when you awake, they will speak to you.

23 For these commands are
a lamp,
       this teaching is a light,
       and the corrections of discipline
       are the way to life,

24 keeping you from
the immoral woman,
       from the smooth tongue of the wayward
wife.  Proverbs 6:20-24

The last post focused on the danger of communication
breakdowns between parents and their teenagers. When communication with parents
fails, teenagers lose a significant weapon in their battle with the world. The
words underlined in the text above could all be translated guard according to Waltke’s commentary. Notice that the initiative
here is with the child. The father is urging that his son follow his direction.
But the protection will come as the son actively participates in guarding his
heart. This is the same sense as Proverbs 4:23 where the son is told, “Above all else guard your heart.” The
connection with the instruction given to younger children must not be missed.

 

Toddlers are not good candidates
for deep philosophical discussion about worldview. What they do need to learn from
parental instruction (and this qualifies as worldview)
is that God must be obeyed. Parents must
reference God as their authority in conversations and discipline. The world
functions according to God’s purposes, not their own. As toddlers grow into
childhood, the focus of training is on character development. Your child must
learn to move from selfishness to godly character. Then, for the teenage years,
the goal is the internalization of God’s truth for living. This is what we see
here in Proverbs 6: the young man is to internalize the truth of his parents’
instruction so that he will be protected from the attack of the world,
specifically in this case, the advance of the immoral woman. (Shepherding a Child’s Heart, 127-200)

Parents,
you must see this vital
connection between how you give instruction to your young children and
how they
will respond to temptation as teenagers. The young people depicted in
the Linkin Park lyrics in the previous post have no  regard for their
parent’s instruction. Because of   this they are vulnerable. This
dynamic is essential to grasp,
especially in dealing with young children and toddlers. Your focus must
go
beyond behavior. If your instruction is primarily about stopping
squabbles,
then what you will achieve is a temporary stalemate. Your children may
stop
squabbling, but their hearts are unprepared for the attacks that will
come.
They will not be obeying because God must be obeyed; they will be
obeying
because it is in their best interest to obey. The use of these same
criteria of
decision making will not offer protection for them as teenagers, but
entrapment. The earlier stalemates may yield devastating defeats later
on. Contrast
the youth of Proverbs 6 with the one in chapter 7. The youth in chapter
6 knows
protection from powerful sexual temptation. In stark contrast Proverbs
7:7 says
this about the young man in this chapter:

7 I saw among the
simple,
                   I
noticed among the young men,
                   a
youth who lacked judgment.

This was a youth who lacked
protection. This is someone who thinks the words of his parents smother him. Proverbs
makes a connection between parents and children that offers a perfect balance
between responsibility and accountability. Parents are responsible to present
God’s instruction faithfully and accurately. Children are accountable to trust
and implement that instruction. This is the meaning of 6:21:  this instruction is to be worn as if it were the
finest of adornment. This is what offers the protection.

Verse 24 makes it clear that
temptation will be powerful and attractive to young people. The attraction to
sin will be presented in the form of something that is highly desirable. The
temptation often comes at a time of personal discouragement and offers an
alluring fix to a relational struggle. Parents, this is why you must take great
care in how you instruct your children. God must be at the center of all you do
and say. This is the meaning of Deut. 6:4-7. Your children will be accountable
to follow your words. Make those words as attractive and pleasant as possible (Proverbs
16:20-24).

When my children were younger I
could offer protection by being with them. I could make sure my eye was on them
when we went grocery shopping. When we were at a busy place, like a mall, I
would hold their hands. If we were hiking in a park I would often carry them
over rough terrain. When they became teenagers my ability to protect was no
longer based upon my physical presence with them. They either trusted the
instruction given to them or they didn’t. I wasn’t there. But God was. This is
the reality you must give your children. Your early instruction of your
children must reference God as real, as one who is there. 

Your child will become a
teenager who is faced with powerful temptations to follow the lusts of the
flesh. If you have teenagers now, they are experiencing those temptations
daily. Ask God for the grace to make your instruction something that they
desire to bind to their hearts and display to others as fine adornment.

More on this theme in the next
post. Think about these things. Why not leave a comment about this subject of
protection?

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