This past summer I read a book entitled Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp. The aim of the book is to challenge parents to view their teens through the lens of who God has made them to be, to encourage by reminding them of the daily transforming power of the saving work of Jesus Christ, which in turn will equip them to be the spiritual leader and mentor their child so desperately needs.
Early in the book, Tripp uses the experience of vacation planning to illustrate the importance of preparation to arrive at a destination. When planning for a vacation, most of us put considerable thought into where we want to go, how we are going to get there, what resources we will need, etc. He then challenges the reader to imagine how the vacation would be if we “sort of” understood what a vacation was supposed to be, or “sort of” knew where we wanted to go, or “sort of” knew how much it would cost, etc. What would be the chances of having a fulfilling and meaningful vacation with that kind of half-hearted or uninformed preparation?
In the same, but in a much more important way, what are the chances of raising children who are wise and “successful” if we don’t really know what that should look like, or what those words even mean? How will we know that our definition for those terms is even accurate, and not just shaped by our relative opinions or the ever-changing culture around us?
Here at Oak Grove, we are partnering with every family to cultivate wise and virtuous young men and women. Fortunately, in the pursuit of this mission we do not have to guess or stumble our way through a definition of wisdom and success. The Creator and Lord of the universe, who defines all reality (Colossians 1:16-17), has revealed to us what we need to know in His Word, and who we need to be through His Son!
One of the best places to begin in God’s Word when it comes to defining and understanding wisdom is the book of Proverbs. Biblical scholars have noted that in many ways, the book of Proverbs could be considered King Solomon’s treatise on education for the young man and young woman. Like most books and letters, the opening section of Proverbs gives us an outline of what the book is about. Let’s look at those verses:
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7, ESV)
Does this not describe what we all want and need for ourselves, and our children? I recommend you read it again and personalize it for you, then your children. Now, note verse 7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This is a weighty statement, and if the thesis of Proverbs and all of wisdom were summed up in one statement, this is it!
The “fear of the Lord,” and it being the necessary foundation for all wisdom, is a concept that is repeated throughout the Bible, not just in Proverbs. We have chosen this to be our theme at Oak Grove for 2021-22 because it is a timeless principle that applies broadly throughout every sphere of life and learning. It is a concept that demands careful analysis and prayerful attention. If we want our children to be wise men and women, then we would be utterly foolish not to contemplate what it means to “fear the Lord.”
As you think about your goals and your destination personally, for your family, and for your children this year (and in the years to come), I challenge you to prayerfully consider these words “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Consider: is this reflected in your life, and your family life? Is the Lord prompting you to rethink or change something to better align your life with His Word? What would your children say if you asked and discussed this with them?
In the next article, we will look at how this concept is defined and illustrated in other parts of God’s Word. Stay tuned!