The book of Proverbs in the Bible is a collection of wise saying, some short, others like an extended story. They are meant to make us think about life and choices. Many of these proverbs reference the instruction and place of parents. In fact, many of the proverbs are written as from a father to a child. One section tells us...
Listen to your father who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.
Buy—and do not sell—truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
The father of a righteous son will rejoice greatly, and one who fathers a wise son will delight in him.
Let your father and mother have joy, and let her who gave birth to you rejoice.
Parents have been devalued in our culture. At every turn there are people and created institutions that have tried to replace parents as the primary fountain of knowledge and wisdom in a child's life. From entertainment to public schooling, we have been convinced that parents are simply people who take care of the child while society forms them. This discounting of parenting was never God's intent. A parent is more important to the growth and life of a child than a teacher, a doctor, a preacher, a rap artist, a policeman, or a social worker. God gave children to parents... not to daycare workers.
I remember about 35 years ago as VCRs were becoming the big thing, people would joke about not being able to set the clock, so it would flash "12:00" all the time. So the child would "have to set the clock" for the adults. This adaptation curve in technology continued with computers and cell phones. It is kind of a running joke in our culture. But it isn't funny. Because this technology/understanding gap reinforces the idea that parents are slow. While it isn't explicitly said, the underlying belief is often... If you aren't bright enough to send a text message, you probably shouldn't be advising me on what is right and wrong, or what I should do with my life.
This is not helpful. The enemy uses such ideas to widen the gap in generations and the family unit.
The wise writer says that we should "buy and not sell" truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding. During the upcoming season a lot of people will buy many things that won't last until the next holiday. They will spend their money on things that they are told they must have, but will be obsolete within a year. Sometimes they will sell something valuable in order to get the fleeting. One of the great tragedies of our day is that we sell grandma's gold necklace at a "We Buy Gold" shop so we can have money to eat out at Cracker Barrel.
Along the way, VCRs, computers, and cellphones go onto the trash heap of civilization. But family goes on. And the words of the wise man continue to be true. They are true in my life...
My children have given their mother an myself joy as they live lives of wisdom and truth. I would like to think my life honors my parents and makes them rejoice, though I know that there have been times it did not. You cannot go back. You cannot make your parents wiser. You can't make them great. But you can make them glad. You can honor the value of parenting in your life.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.