“Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.”
There are many things my kids would like to acquire, and they don’t tend to have much of a filter when it comes to asking for them: “Mom, can I get the new iPhone? Mom, can I get new dance shoes? Mom, can I get a better Lacrosse stick? Hey Mom, can I get a pig?”
Yes, I was asked by one of my children if we could purchase a pig. I say “yes” to a lot in life. I drew the line at swine.
And the most recent request came from my oldest: “Mom, can I get a car?”
We’ve been teaching my daughter to drive, and while she’s proven to be a good driver (so far), there were moments early on when my blood pressure would rise. Like, a lot. I tried to play it cool and act like I completely trusted her, but there’s something about being in the passenger seat next to my daughter that makes me 1) lean, rather oddly, in the direction she needs to go, and 2) repeat the same command more than once. Well, maybe numerous: stop. Stop. STOP. STOP!! STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!!!
And then she typically responds with, “Mom, I was stopping!” Then I try to play it cool by saying, “Yeah, I know.” But the numerous repeated commands give me away every time.
I thought about Proverbs 4 when my daughter asked about getting a car. Of all the things my kids want to get in life – cars, good grades, roles in musicals, spots on sport teams – how do I teach them the importance of chasing after wisdom? How do I compel them to want to get wisdom with the same vigor they want all these earthly possessions? I think we have to teach our children by first helping them understand what it is they are actually pursuing, then by showing them why it’s important to pursue it, and finally, we need to help them see how it is they can get it.
WHAT are we supposed to get?
In teaching my daughter to drive, one of the most basic things she learned is what to do at a stoplight. When she saw the red light, she stopped because she had acquired the knowledge that red means stop.
When we’re teaching our kids to pursue wisdom, we’re in part teaching them to pursue knowledge of Scripture. They need to know what God’s Word says, and scripture memory is one of the best ways to increase this knowledge.
But knowledge is only part of it. We also need to teach our kids to pursue insight. If knowledge is knowing that a red light means stop, insight is understanding what will happen if you go through the light. In the same way, pursuing insight into Scripture is gaining an understanding beyond the words. It’s asking the deeper questions of “why” and “how.”
But there’s still more because even if you have knowledge of what the red light means, and insight into what will happen if you don’t stop, you still need wisdom to make the decision to stop when the light turns red. Wisdom is the application of the truth in the right circumstances. In other words, once our children begin to have knowledge of Scripture and insight into its context, they still need to understand how to apply it to their everyday life. What we should be eagerly seeking is how we can put to practice the truths in Scripture. This is wisdom – get it.
But WHY get it?
Because wisdom is a matter of life and death. If you don’t stop at the light – if you don’t apply your knowledge – there could be dire consequences. The Bible makes clear that instruction from the Lord is life for our soul. Proverbs 24 says, “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Getting wisdom is the answer to lasting happiness – it’s the answer to life! This understanding is significant for us as parents as well as for our kids as they grow and mature in their faith.
There is nothing else we will “get” in life that can give this same eternal promise. Nothing. There are other things that can bring happiness and fulfillment, but only for a brief time. John Piper says, “Our thirst for happiness is insatiable in this world, and if we do not have the wisdom to seek it in God, then we will find whatever substitutes we can in the world” (Desiring God, Get Wisdom). And those substitutes will not give us a future, those substitutes will not give life to our soul. But wisdom will – get it.
Then HOW do we get it?
Wisdom comes from the Lord, and He gives it through His Word. Proverbs 4 makes clear that we’re not to turn away from the Words of His mouth. But in order to do this, we need to believe the Word has value. We need to seek it with vigor, asking the Holy Spirit to compel us and help us better understand.
If your kids are not involved in a Bible study, encourage them to join one that faithfully teaches the Word of God. How you get it is by faithfully studying the text, by having others who have studied come along side, and by praying that the Lord would reveal Himself through it. We don’t get wisdom by a magical snap of the fingers, but like most things that are worth pursuing, we get it by working toward it – careful study, prayerful consideration, and intentional time with the Lord.
Not unlike my commands when teaching my daughter to drive, the writer of Proverbs exhorts with a sense of urgency: Get Wisdom! Get Insight! Do Not Forget! Wisdom is life, and it is more important to pursue than any earthly want or desire. We may have to repeat it to ourselves and our kids many times over, but the command is worth the repetition: get wisdom.