Remembering Wise Words
Wisdom often comes from recalling. Sometimes it takes wisdom to convert moments of sorrow into moments of strength.
Proverbs Chapter 4
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Upon returning from his dad’s funeral, many people had remarked how much he had grown. Others said how much he was like his father. Some of the eulogising had referred to his father’s “checkered past”. He was puzzled by these comments. He knew nothing of a checkered past. He was proud to be called his father’s son. He was no longer a boy. He was now a man. A young man. A young man with his own family who was heir to his father’s fortune which his dad had feared might ruin his boy – but he had managed to teach his son that there was something far more valuable than these temporal treasures. He now felt the weight of raising his own boys and was glad that he had been blessed by such a good trainer.
His infant sons had just loosened their ties and kicked off their black leather dress shoes. He called them over to sit on his knees, just as his own dad had done with him. He looked at them. Really looked at them.
“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.”
He wanted the best for his sons. He was young but he had already come to realise that by applying what his father had taught him he had been enabled to live an amazing life of privilege. His father had taught him gratitude – In all your ways acknowledge Him.
“When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.”
He paused. He knew that words could indeed teach even if they sounded obvious. He remembered his dad’s words to him about wisdom and knew that his young boys would not yet understand all that he had to tell them.
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
His boys only ever knew their grandfather as a frail old man. Their dad spoke of his dad often as someone they should be proud of. He spoke of his father’s earlier distinguished military career and how he was decorated by his country for his bravery. He brushed over his father’s life after the Army because these years were what his father called his years of shame. His father had a string of failed marriages in this period. This was partly why he never accepted by his older brothers. But his dad had been converted. His defiled soul had encountered the grace of God’s washing forgiveness. He remembered his dad telling him once-
“Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.”
There were frequent reminders of the brothers he never got to know. His father was initially reluctant to talk about what had happened. All his dad would say was by way of warning about associating with “wicked” men. Dad warned him that his very life was danger if he kept their company. Eventually he came to learn the fate of his brothers and understood at a deeper level what his father meant by these frequent warnings-
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”
Since his own father’s conversion, he come to know that his father was a changed man by the way his father spoke of his life “before” and “after”. The years of shame had been dark.
“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”
He looked back at his boys on his knees as he recited his father’s wisdom. The life of wisdom was not about gratifying every desire. It was not about just living in the moment. It looked beyond the present. As a result, a life of wisdom was often ridiculed by fools as boring. But the life wisdom offered was indeed boring to those who found pain, heart-ache, and animosity, exciting. The life which wisdom afforded was one that affected the heart of the wise before it affected their behaviour.
“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.”
The heart. Wisdom is firstly a heart issue. This is why his Dad had taught him not so much about his behaviour, but about his heart. The heart, his father taught, was the wellspring of your entire life. Pollute your heart with bitterness or envy and you pollute your whole life. Taint your heart with blame and you excuse yourself from being responsible. cease being responsible and you ultimately injure yourself.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life…Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.”
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Wisdom may be the only inheritance a parent can leave their child. But unlike other forms of inheritances, it is given before death and, more than other inheritances, it survives after death. Parents, time spent instructing your children in wisdom is time fragranced with the beauty of eternity. Ultimate Wisdom is in reality Eternal Wisdom (1Cor. 2: James, the brother of our Lord, wrote that if anyone lacks wisdom he is but only to ask God. Wisdom comes from God in surprising forms. Ask God for wisdom and He may lead you to an unexpected teacher.