Proverbs 23 has Solomon providing us wisdom again, this time beginning with some thoughts on money. “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven”. Elsewhere in scripture we learn that money is the root of all evil. Solomon warns us about chasing it. It is a never ending pursuit if we get caught up in acquiring it. Enough never seems to happen, and it consumes our effort and energy. It doesn’t last.
He also warns us about how we invest into others. There are some that just aren’t going to learn. They refuse to truly listen and hear, and our efforts will not produce any fruit. “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words….Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge”. It is far better to invest in those who are willing to take instruction and learn. Those who refuse are seeking the wrong things. Their heart is in the wrong place. “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day”.
We get a bit more wisdom on training up kids here. “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol”. There is plenty of controversy around spanking or physical discipline of children. While there is certainly a limit to how that should happen, Solomon’s wisdom seems to include some physical discipline if necessary. It isn’t a ticket to abuse or any kind of injury, but there certainly seems to be an appropriate time for the rod.
The role of parents is also clear here. It is to train up kids in how they should live. That is to happen through instruction and example. It is one of the most important things we should do as parents (and grandparents – actually any adult in a kid’s life). We have a responsibility to lead well. “Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way….Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old….My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways”. We’ll likely go through the cycle of genius to dumber than dirt and then back to genius status as our kids go through their early years, switch to their teenage and young adult years, and then their early parenting years. It’s a cycle but as the grown-ups in the relationship we need to stay the course and continue to teach and lead by example!