By Cynthia Carrier
It’s pretty much standard procedure to open an article such as this with a cute anecdote that will draw the reader in. This next installment of "Spiritual Kids," which has been all about character training and nurturing our children in Godly values, is focused on the attribute of "wisdom." As I searched my memory for a cute, child-related story having to do with wisdom, all I could do was chuckle to myself—because on a moment’s notice, nothing came to mind!
In fact, incident after incident raced through my mind of the times my children have evidenced "folly," instead—which is the polar opposite of wisdom. I’m sure that, like me, you are often (unpleasantly) surprised by the ridiculous things your children do, as if they should know better. But this childishness is no surprise to God: "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15).
Unfortunately, as this Scripture indicates, our children’s folly often brings punishment upon them—but it is for their good. Just as God disciplines those He loves (see Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6), we as parents must lovingly rebuke our children to turn their hearts from folly to wisdom.
The Proverbs, in particular, are full of references to the value of Godly wisdom. But in order to encourage this character trait in our children and insure that they are maturing into spiritually fit followers of Christ, it’s good to start with a basic definition. Foundational to receiving the godly wisdom that brings blessing is "the fear of the Lord." Psalm 111:10 is one of many verses that connects wisdom with this reverential awe and respect: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding…" (see also Job 28:28, Proverbs 1:7, Isaiah 33:6). Knowledge of, and faithfulness to, God’s Word is equally important in gaining wisdom: "The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple" (Psalms 19:7, see also Psalm 119:98-100, Matthew 7:24-27).
If we encourage our children to see God as not only a loving Father, but also as an all-powerful, omnipotent being who deserves our reverential respect, we’re helping them to develop "the fear of the Lord" that leads to wisdom. This Godly wisdom is vastly different from worldly wisdom, or knowledge. The apostle Paul recognized this when he admitted, "‘My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power’" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Though Paul was a learned religious scholar with knowledge of the law and great skill in reasoning and debate, he freely admitted that his human wisdom and success would have come to nothing if it were not for the power of God at work in and through him.
It’s important, also, for our children to know that we, as their parents, are here to help them grow in wisdom—because it’s not in their nature to figure things out on their own. Although we don’t want to point this out in a way that will exasperate our children (see Ephesians 6:4), we can encourage them to be thoughtful in decision-making and, particularly, to receive instruction and direction. Proverbs 13:1 and Proverbs 19:20 provide good reminders and make excellent memory verses for children.
As parents, we need to seek God’s wisdom in how we raise our children and how we respond to our children on a day-to-day basis! The good news is, if we need wisdom (or want more of it), all we have to do is ask for it. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Read the Proverbs and other verses about wisdom to your children, and pray together that you may grow in wisdom as a reflection of the character of Christ.