This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on June 19th, 2011. To listen to the audio just click on this link – Prov 27A.
Today is Father’s Day and coincidentally we have arrived at a passage of Scripture that very much lends itself to family counsel and wisdom. So this morning we want to look at the advice and observations of this passage and talk about families.
Children, Listen to Your Parents.
vs. 1-2 Don’t Be Boastful or Arrogant: Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. Vs.1-2 capture something very common about the nature of children and their attitude towards life – the tendency to make plans without careful thought and to dream and scheme – the desire for praise and the tendency to boast about what they can and will do. Children also tend to be impatient with the caution and conservatism of their parents, and to believe that parents lack the energy or vision to understand or sympathize with their plans (and, at times, that may be true).
But the desire not to hear caution and to act impulsively and impatiently is arrogance. The command against arrogant impulsive action comes from God himself. James 4:13-16 quotes Prov.27:1 and exposes the attitude of the heart – our desire to be our own gods – to create a self-focused glory.
vs.6 Listen to the Hard Counsel of Your Parents: Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. “Wounds from a friend” are those instances when someone disagrees with us or crosses our will or corrects us for our own good. We need to learn the value of wounds. In general parents, who have clothed, fed and raised us, want to see us thrive, but children tend to forget this when a parent gives counsel or correction that is difficult to receive.
We like “kisses” better than wounds. Put this way that sounds obvious and easy – but there is nothing harder than listening to correction and being wounded for our own benefit. It feels like something dying in the pit of the stomach. Here, again, this points to the state of our hearts. We may not appear to be arrogant in our own eyes, but the real test is how we respond to correction. Those who take the pain to correct us for our good are being faithful and are truly loving us.
Vs.10 Learn to Work out Relationships Where you are, Rather than Ditching: Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.
The skill that children learn in working out relationships with grace and wisdom is often what they lack in their relationship with parents. Children tend to forsake (turn against and accuse) parents during times of difficulty in the relationship. The proverb is a call to continue to work through problems and so to learn how to be truly wise in relationships.
Jesus Was a Son: Scripture tells us that Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered (Heb.5:7-9). What characterized Jesus’ relationship to the Father was his trust. Jesus was willing to suffer because he trusted the Father. In the same way, we are called to trust that God has appointed our parents to us, and that, in his wisdom, God has called us to work out our relationships with and to thoughtfully respect and listen to the correction of our parents. This is a matter of trusting that God is at work in the relationship between us and our parents.
** The younger a child is the more these things are a rule of life – the older a child becomes the more these things become a good principle to be exercised with thoughtful wisdom.
Parents, Show Love to Your Children.
Vs.5 Do Not Hide Your Love: Better is open rebuke than hidden love. It is better for a child to be openly punished before others (and the sense of the Proverb is that this is not a good thing), than to live with a parent who does not show his or her love.
Parents often hide or withhold their love because they do not want to show too much kindness – to be too easy on a son or daughter lest the child take advantage or assume too much acceptance and become spoiled. But children are not spoiled by love – they are spoiled when parents indulge their bad behavior.
Parents who hide or withhold love from their children create a whole host of problems – not the least of which is an unhealthy and distant relationship. Children, who form their understanding of what God is like through their relationship with parents, are scarred by a parent’s distant behavior. But there are also other problems…
Vs.7 Children Who Do Not Have a Parents Love Will Find Love Somewhere Else: One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
This is not meant to be an encouraging statement. A child who is hungry for love, attention and praise, and who does not receive it from a parent, will find it somewhere else. A child who is starving for the sweetness of a parents love (which is the proper gift from a parent), will accept what looks like love, even if it is bitter, abusive, harsh and destructive.
Vs.8 Children Who Do Not Have a Parent’s Love Leave Home Unprotected: Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home. Children either leave home when they are ready – or they escape home unready. The home is meant to be a place of love and protection – a place to return to and find comfort and help and something indefinably healing. When we openly love our children we create that place without trying. When we do not openly love our children, we send them out into the world without a place to return to when they are in trouble or when they need comfort.
vs.9 Children Want / Need a Parents Heart-Felt Advice: Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Heartfelt advice requires that a parent engage enough with their child to know what they care about – what they are involved in – and what a child hopes for. A parent who makes this kind of investment in their child – rather than passing the child’s interests off as stupid or worthless – and who gives advice springing from love and concern – rejoices their child’s heart.
God Reveals Himself to Us as a Father: Think of this for a second… God is a Father to us, but he never tries to control us. God is a Father to us who has expressed love for us at immense cost to himself. God is a Father to us and he has given us his heartfelt word – has invested in our lives in order to know us – and to be known by us.
As Fathers and Mothers, we are called to believe that this pattern – (not controlling, but allowing a child freedom to think and act – expressing love even when it is difficult or costly – engaging and giving heartfelt advice) – is what God will use to produce godliness and joy in our children.
Siblings Don’t Poison Your Relationships.
Vs.3 Don’t Provoke One Another: Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both. To Provoke is to annoy, insult, torment, harass – looking for a response. SIblings tend to provoke one another with angry statements, with contempt, with dismissals. These are the things that poison relationships between brothers and sisters. We learn a pattern of understanding and responding to one another that is hostile so that, after a time, our tone towards one another is angry, dismissive, arrogant. We drive away those who know us best and who would understand us best.
The Proverb calls us to stop acting and speaking like fools – to stop being a burden to one another – to learn all over again to understand and speak to one another.
Vs.4 Don’t Feed Jealousy: Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? Siblings tend to be jealous of one another. Siblings are jealous of one another’s abilities, relationships (with parents and with others). Jealousy is an appetite which produces cruelty and fury, that we either learn to feed or cut off.
Jesus Is a Brother to Us: Jesus is the model of the older brother for us. He has taken up for us in the battle that we could not possibly fight. He has become our advocate and is constantly praying for us. He has openly loved us and given himself for us in the face of our sins and offenses.
Our calling in the gospel is to love our siblings in the face of their wrongdoing and failures.
In all these relationships we have failed to be what we are called to be. We have sinned and fallen short of the glory of what families were designed to be by God. This morning we need to confess our failings to God and begin to ask for a spirit of wisdom to repent and restore our relationships.