“For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction.”
Proverbs 4:2 (NASB)
As my daughter gets older and is beginning to face more situations that require godly decisions, my husband and I realize how important it is for us to give sound wisdom, as described in Proverbs 4:2. When our daughter was younger it was much easier to dispense advice like share your toys, eat your vegetables and stay with us in the parking lot. But now when it comes to dealing with people, relationships and our Christian witness, the task seems much more complex. When I read Solomon’s words, it made me wonder, “Is my advice sound?”
The Hebrew word for sound is towb, meaning good or better. So, in this sense, sound advice is good and it brings that which is pleasant and benefits the person to whom it is given. While I understand the part about advice benefiting someone, I find the pleasant part harder to understand because not all things seem to work out … at least not immediately.
Recently, I had to encourage my daughter to approach a friend at school who was treating her badly. This was tough advice because any confrontation is hard. My daughter had the courage to talk to her friend, but unfortunately it did not go well. In fact, it seemed to make things worse. So, I felt bad and wondered to myself whether I gave her the best counsel.
After thinking about it I concluded that my daughter following through with my counsel has the “pleasant” benefit of knowing that she did what was right and can move on from that person to seek other friends. While this was a hard life lesson, it produces fruit as we study together what the Bible says about friendship. We can trust that wisdom from the Bible is sound and we should make that wisdom our standard. So, now when I question whether my advice is sound, I pray and ask God to show me if the advice I am about to give is biblical or not.
Another lesson I learned from Solomon in Chapter 4 is that persistence is sometimes necessary. He tells his sons to listen to him multiple times:
“Listen my sons, to a father’s instructions…pay attention and gain understanding” (v. 1)
“Listen my son, accept what I say” (v. 10)
“My son, pay attention to what I say, listen closely to my words” (v. 20)
No matter how many times we may give our children the same advice, we need to remember to never give up. Keep on telling them. But do it with respect, so that you do not exasperate your children (Ephesians 6:4). We must not only give our children godly counsel, but we too need to live out that counsel. Our example often speaks louder than words. So, in my case, if I tell my daughter to tell her friend how she feels, then I must be willing to do the same. There is no better way to use godly wisdom than to live it in our own lives.
So if you ever wonder if your counsel to your children is sound, make sure you can find that wisdom in the Bible and consider whether you have tested it in your own life. We can all take Solomon’s advice:
“Wisdom is supreme–so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 (CSB)