The Resolution ~ June 09, 2019 ~ Generation Sunday ~ Proverbs 22:1-6
I’m using as my text some readings from Proverbs chapter 22. Proverbs was written by David’s son, King Solomon. Most of them were written by Solomon early on in his reign. Would you join me in the unison prayer as we prepare to study the Word of God? Let us pray together.
Lord, upon the pages of this book is Your story. It is also
Open our eyes that we may see, our ears that we may hear, our minds that we may understand,
and our hearts that they may be transformed.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Proverbs, chapter 22:
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in
high esteem is better than silver or gold.
The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both.
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.
Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it.
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Proverbs, as a general book, is basically a collection of wisdom sayings; a textbook for teaching people how to live a godly life. Now, these apply to everyone, but as I said this morning, I am looking at it specifically through the lens of a father, or a dad. So, if I was to look at this reading through the lens of a dad, I might begin with verse 1: Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. That means also in the eyes of your children. That your reputation with them is of high esteem and quality; that you have shown them, you have proven to them, you have been an example to them that they are important, that spending time with them is more important than making that next sale, working 80 hours a week, always being busy, not having time to spend with my kids. You will build a reputation, dad, or future dad, with your children every single day. What reputation you have is entirely up to you. Choose a good reputation over great riches.
Verse 2: The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both. Dads come in all shapes and sizes. Some are rich, some are poor, most are somewhere in the middle. The Lord made them both, which means both, all dads, will be held accountable to Him, and He won’t care how much money you had or did not have; He’ll care how you were entrusted with the gift of fatherhood. That’s what He’ll look at.
Verse 3: A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. Some people, including dads, are blind to the truth that surrounds them. We can kind of get tunnel vision at times. We can sometimes not see the dynamics that surround us in our home and in our families, especially when the television is on and we are focused like a laser beam. Sometimes the most obvious things of a child struggling, of a son or a daughter needing our attention, we are blind to because we’re too busy, we’re too occupied with other things – in all seriousness, in all honesty, things for ourselves. We can be supremely selfish as human beings.
Verse 4: True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. When the Lord leads a father’s life, it will be blessed. When He does not, it is a treacherous road.
And that brings us up to verse 6, which is really the heart of the matter: Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. This, moms and dads, is our most important task: the raising up of the next generation. We are entrusted with the gift of life. It is up to us to form them, to influence them, to raise them up. How do we do this? Well, what is the most important thing we can do? Let me rephrase that, let me say it another way: what is the greatest commandment? When Jesus was asked this question, He answered it by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. He said:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul,
and all your strength.”
That’s the most important commandment in all of Scripture. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
At the Men’s Breakfast yesterday, we had a great discussion. In the Old Testament, there’s a tradition where the father actually has, at one point in their child’s lives, a formal blessing. They’ll bring their child before them, they’ll place their hands on their heads, and they will ask God to bless them. And it’s very specific, and it’s very powerful. It’s very valued. And our question around the table was, “So, if you were to do that, if you were to bring your child before you and lay your hands on his or her head and bless them, what would you ask for? What would you ask for God to bless them?” And I was very pleased that the majority of the men there right off the top, quoted some version of this verse. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. That they have a faith, a strong faith, would be the most important thing they would want for their child.
That’s followed up, verse 5, with verses 6 and 7, which say:
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands
that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk
about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are
going to bed and when you are getting up.
Repeat them to your children. That means, dads, that you are responsible for the spiritual education of your children. You are responsible! Obviously, along with mom (she’s a critical part of this team). But no matter how good she may be at it, and they usually are, that does not excuse us as fathers of repeating these commands again and again to our children, talking about them when we are at home and when we are on the road, and when we are going to bed, and when we are getting up. It’s our responsibility!
Now, I decided when I was writing this message, that I was going to enter into the land of political incorrectness this morning, so please bear with me. I’m going to say something that in today’s world is considered very politically incorrect. Don’t shoot the messenger! The Bible says, husbands, fathers, you are supposed to be the head of your household. Now, the reason that is so explosive today is because over time, men have twisted that biblical teaching, abused it in a way that says, “I’m the King and you all must serve me!” The Bible doesn’t say that anywhere. It never has. What it does say is this:
Husbands, this means love your wives, as Christ loved the
church. He gave up his life for her.
Did Jesus ever say to the church, “I am King, bow down and serve me!” No. My Bible talks about Jesus washing feet, saying, “I have come to serve and not be served.” My Bible talks about Jesus saying, “Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” My Bible talks about Jesus dying on the cross. In other words, putting someone else’s life – like my wife or my children – ahead of my own.
Now, if you have someone who is willing to wash feet, to serve, not be served, to take upon the burdens and give you rest and to always put you before them, what wife or child would not want to follow a leader like that? The problem is, all too often, we don’t have leaders like that. It is our responsibility as husbands and fathers to be leaders like that. What does it mean to be head of the household? It means to be Christ-like. To love your wife as Christ loved the church. To provide for your family and to raise up your children in the faith. To repeat the commands again and again to your children, to talk about them when you are at home, and when you are on the road, and when… over and over and over again. That’s your job. I mean, do you make sure your kids go to school every day, dads? And do you make sure they do their homework at night? That’s not mom’s job, that’s yours too. You’re a team.
Likewise, when it comes to raising your children up in the faith, it’s not Moneca’s job, it’s not Dido’s job, it’s not your Sunday school teacher’s job, it’s not my job (completely). I mean, we love your children, but we only have them three or four hours a week. There’s a hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week. We get very little time with them to have an influence. The rest of the time they are with you. Today, dad, they are with you. You have them. You, dad, should be praying with your family. You should be leading prayer with your family. You should be reading Scripture with your family, with your children. That’s what a head of the household does. You still want the job?
See, a lot of guys like the title, they like the perceived power and authority, supposedly, that comes with it, but they don’t want the responsibility. They don’t want to be Christ-like.
Now, like me, if your children are all grown, the good news is you get to start over with grandchildren someday! So, it’s not too late. I have so many things that I want to do with my future grandchildren that I neglected to do with my own. If you are in a situation where you are not married yet, or don’t have any children yet, you’re in luck! Did you see all of the children here at South Church who are able and willing to be encouraged by you? To be an example to? They need you. Step up, dads. Be a role model. Show them what a godly man looks like.
What can you do? Well, first of all, you can be here. God bless you for being here this morning. You’d be amazed at how many dads stay home on Sunday morning, and mom and the kids go to church. You are here. That shows them, that shows the next generation that this is important to you. This is important, period. What do we do here on Sunday morning? We come on Sunday morning to worship God, to lift up our prayers, to read His Word, to sing Him songs, to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us in the message. That’s what we come here on Sunday mornings to do.
Well, maybe to begin with, to break the ice, dads, maybe we could learn these kids’ names. Start one at a time, so then on Sunday morning when you show up, you can welcome them by name. Good morning, Haley. Good morning, Grace. Good morning, Keira. That might be a place to start. And then you can also be an example while you are here. You can be singing. You can be praying. You can be listening during the message and not on your phone. You can be in here in the meeting house and not sitting out there in the lobby. It distresses me a little, I must say, to know that people get up in the morning, they shower, they get in the car, they drive all the way to 277 Main Street, and they sit in the lobby. If that’s all you come to do, stay home! Is God not worth an hour or so of your time? Of your worship? What do you teach the next generation when you sit out there with young people? You teach them that “eh, we can just sit out here and enjoy ourselves. Going into the meeting house and worshiping, it’s not that important.” That’s what you’re saying! So, dads, you see people hanging out out there during the message, during the sermon, during the service? Scoot them in. Be an example. Lead by example. Tell them, “This is important! We have come to give thanks to the Lord this morning.” I was disappointed last week to hear so many people were out watching the parade. Imagine that. I come to 277 Main Street, and what I tell God on Sunday, is it was more important to me to watch the parade than to give you thanks.
Guys, we’ve got to lead by example. We’ve got to step up. We need to show them what a godly man looks like. When we do that, young men will want to imitate us. When we do that, young women will seek out a godly man to marry – someone who will love them as Christ loved the church, someone who will put them first, and not themselves – because that’s what they’ve seen their whole lives. They’ll see godly men and they’ll want to have a relationship with a godly man; someone who believes that worship, and prayer, and praise, and song is important.
Now, we are blessed here at South Church to have some men, some great men, who attend. For a few years now, I’ve had some men who have wanted to make a public commitment by signing a resolution before God and His witnesses, and His church, to be the kind of godly man that He calls them to be. It was inspired by the movie Courageous that we showed last night.
Now, for those men here this morning who are married and have children, if you are interested in signing this commitment, the commitment starts today. For those who are not yet married, who are single; or might be married but not yet have children – if you want to sign this resolution, you are making a solemn promise for the future of what kind of a husband, what kind of a father you want to be. The resolution reads like this:
I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children. I will love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home. I will be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her, as Jesus Christ did for me. I will bless my children and teach them to love God with all their hearts, all their minds, and all of their strength. I will train them to honor authority and live responsibly. I will confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy. I will pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion. I will work diligently to provide for the needs of my family. I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged. I will learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God. I will seek to honor God, to be faithful to His church, obey His word, and do His will. I will courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life, and for His glory. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.