Proverbs 4:20-27 is a helpful guide for protecting your heart. The command to guard your heart, in verse 23, is embedded between two practical considerations to help you accomplish this. The first consideration in protecting the heart is to be aware of what goes into the heart. This only makes sense if everything that a person does flows from the heart.
In verse 20, Solomon urges his son to carefully listen to his words:
My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
There is a direct connection with this verse and Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and Ephesians 6:1-3. The father’s words, and by extension the mother’s, are not just random thoughts. They specifically reference God’s words and wisdom.
This connection must not be missed. Solomon is teaching his son the words of God. But much more than just chapter and verse is envisioned here. The other component of good biblical teaching is the imparting of wisdom.
Wisdom is the skill of applying God’s truth to everyday life situations.
We find a profound example of this combination of command & wisdom in Proverbs 7. The father could have just repeated the command against adultery to his son and said nothing else. His instruction would have accurate, but not especially helpful. To our great benefit, the father goes on to provide his son with biblical wisdom to make his case against adultery. He boldly uses a real life situation to drive the point home. This captures the meaning of Proverbs 4:20. The son has the biblical command combined with a vivid, real-life illustration.
Now, how would this example of command and wisdom look today? Your children need to hear more than do not commit adultery or do not fornicate. The father in Proverbs 7 accurately communicated the cultural climate of his day. He was aware of how truth would be distorted and mocked and thus, prepared his son. We must do no less.
One element of the Proverbs 7 illustration that is easily missed is the appeal to spiritual correctness. The temptation to the young man is cloaked in a veil of spirituality. The woman had fulfilled her spiritual obligations, There was no one that she had to answer to. Only a judgmental hypocrite could deny the validity of her actions. She was being true to her own standard. She was her own person.
This is spiritual correctness; don’t let anyone else tell you how to be spiritual.
While our culture is not biblical, it is spiritual. Culturally, we are to be tolerant of all forms of spirituality, except for biblical Christianity. One set of beliefs is just as valid as another.
This is what your children will face. It is great to be spiritual, but it is hateful to think others must conform to your version of spirituality. Spiritual correctness presents a deadly challenge to your children. More in the next post.