A Father's Advice
Proverbs 3: 1-12
There are signs all about us that people, in their enthusiasm for wholesome living,
have forgotten the most important thing of all: God, our Creator,
the One through the ages called Father.
Signs of this absence are evident:
Those are statistics which estimate that sixty percent of those who worshipped
in Church last Sunday will not open their Bibles until they get back in Church again.
Thirty percent who worshipped last Sunday will be elsewhere today
and thirty percent of those who worship today will be elsewhere next Sunday.
Worship and reverence for God have become, for many, a lower priority.
Irreverence is characteristic.
Nothing is considered sacred or holy.
Disrespect has become characteristic in a large number of our schools,
with the cause going right back to the homes in which children live.
This lack of respect finds expression in the loss of manners,
the prevalence of rudeness, an infatuation with violence and crime,
and a distorted use of God's great gift of human sexuality.
It is in this climate that we face our greatest challenge.
Every parent or grandparent, worthy of this gift of life, wants his or her child
to be effective, to live well, to be successful in the finest sense of the word.
It is this yearning that leaps out from tour text from the Book of Proverbs.
It begins: "My son..."
You can feel the concern in those words!
A father is speaking, there were characteristics of his day that are common to our own.
His people were moving from a rural to an urban culture.
They had come from the countryside to the city life of Jerusalem.
The simpler ways of life in the family were altered.
They were now in touch with the Canaanites and other non-Israelites
who had pagan gods or no gods at all.
Even some of their fellow Hebrews had become renegades
and compromised the integrity of their faith.
This father warns his son.
He warns against greed, perverted values and teaching, and easy, adulterous women.
The conversation sounds like our advice when our children leaves
the more secure environs of the home, going out on a date, driving the car,
leaving for college and any of those occasions where the environment
into which we send them is open to question.
We want to know:
Where are you going?
How will you get there?
What time will you be in?
Who will be there?
And we also warn about drugs, riding with someone impaired by drinking,
experimentation with sex, rudeness or irresponsibility, and we encourage right decisions,
which will make life effective.
"My son... keep my commandments."
These words, spoken by a Father are not given to squelch all the fun,
but these commandments have been proven to enable effective living.
This is what this loving father wants.
This is what Our Father, Our Creator, Our Lord, wants for us.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."
If we were to say this, it might sound like this:
"Son, don't be a know-it-all. Don't be a fool.
There is more to truth than simply self-knowledge."
Earlier this father had said,
"The fear of the Lord, respect, awe, is the beginning of wisdom,
but the fool despises wisdom and instruction."
The danger of self-knowledge comes in forgetting our disposition to sin, simply wrongdoing.
We have a natural disposition to consider forbidden fruit sweeter.
Trusting only in ourselves creates an atmosphere that turns us towards paths that are wrong.
It is this recognition that leads the father to urge his son,
"Trust, not in your own knowledge, but in the Lord. Never forget your Creator.
Bet your life on God's truth."
He then says to trust not just with the mind, but the heart.
George Santayana reminds us:
"It is not wisdom to be only wise
And on the inward vision close the eyes."
" Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding."
Here is where to go for direction.
It is said that when Henry Ford developed the assembly line and revolutionized manufacturing,
that it was actually a man named Henry Steinmetz who designed it.
There came a time after production had begun when the assembly line broke down
and Henry Ford had to call Henry Steinmetz to come and get it going.
Steinmetz presented a bill for $10,000.
Henry Ford protested, complaining that the bill was too high
for one who had just come and tinkered around a bit.
In response, Henry Steinmetz sent the bill back to Henry Ford with this note:
Tinkering around ... $10; knowing where to tinker.... $9,990.
The Word tells us where to tinker!
"Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding."
Don't be a know it all!
This father is aware that more is involved for us than simply trusting in the Lord.
We must make conscious choices.
God creates the boundaries for healthy, effective living.
They focus on reverence, love, respect...for God, for ourselves, and for others.
God wants us to accept these boundaries, but leaves us the freedom to reject them.
If we choose to reject, we suffer the consequences.
It is the love and concern of this father that cries out to his son,
"Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear God and depart from evil."
The father knows that the two go together.
If we hold God in reverence and respect, if we genuinely worship God
as God is known in Jesus Christ, we will part from the things that are evil.
"If we acknowledge Him in all things, He will direct our paths!"
The text concludes with a promise,
"If you trust the Lord, it will bring health to you flesh and strength to your bones."
Faith and its practice sustain healthy values.
A life in Christ will cultivate moderation or abstinence from harmful substances,
and will provide courage when up against hardship.
These things all combine to protect the faithful from making dangerous choices and to relieve stress.
So trust in the Lord.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes:
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones."
Sermon By Dr. Harold L. White