The Source of Real Wisdom

Passing down genuine wisdom can make a huge difference to children.

By Dudley Hall Published on May 19, 2015


What happens when the young are not taught wisdom?

Watching the insanity of mob violence alarms us all, with scenes of young people running through the streets smashing private property, burning buildings, and screaming angrily to get our attention. What is the real cause of such a breakdown? And what is the cure?

The first tendency is usually to assign blame. Is it the decline of culture? The aggressiveness of the police? The failure of government? The breakdown of the family? The depravity of the individual? The withdrawal of the Church? Or some other guilty party? And then, who can effectively fix the problem? The solution is certainly more involved than just making speeches or pushing a new government policy. We have to look further.

Wisdom Literature — In the Bible

In the history of Israel, the time of King Solomon is remembered as a period when people appreciated wisdom. There is a great collection of wise observations called Proverbs. This collection reveals that God wants people to know how to navigate earthly life with success. Discerning men and women who have approached life with awe towards God and respect for his creation have found transcendent maxims that serve as guidelines for living. God gave these for our benefit.

The proverbs are set in the framework of a father giving counsel to his children. In its highest form, it represents God the Father giving instruction to people who honor him. This approach assumes the role of parents as essential to protecting their young from the snares of evil embedded in society. When that role is diminished or parents abdicate, they leave their young to try and make sense out of a complicated world — while possessing little discernment or experience. Children become susceptible to the influence of reckless peers. Often, with that weakened foundation, sexual temptations also begin to take a toll. Proverbs warns us how to guard against these dangers.

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you … if you call out for insight … if you seek it like silver … then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Then … discretion will watch over you … delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech … men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways. So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.  (Proverbs 2:1-16)

Wisdom Literature Teaches Children How to Socialize

Why does Proverbs warn of these temptations first? Perhaps because the young need strong affirmation from parents before they try to socialize in a larger community. Neighbors really do matter. They affirm or disaffirm the values that make up a particular society. The first neighborhood should consist of those who care the most about the success of their young — those who have the best interest of the child at heart; namely, parents and family. When that is missing the neighborhood can be cruel. Some neighborhoods have many who are only concerned with their own survival, and are looking for unsuspecting youth to use as tools. They take advantage of a child’s longing to belong and be accepted.  This can lead youth to participate in things that can destroy their lives. The parents do not get all the blame, however. Even the best youth are tempted by the deceiver. Good parents do not guarantee good kids, but they give the best opportunity that most children will have.

Wisdom Literature Teaches Children the Truth About Sexuality

Sexuality is such an important part of life. And it creates enormous confusion for young people. Without the guidance of parents it can be overwhelmingly difficult to make good choices for the long run. Sex is so much more than just a biological function, and its pleasure potential is so much greater than mere physical pleasure. Marriage offers a mystical union between husband and wife. But it can easily be diluted and devalued when overcome by basic passions. When sexuality is reduced to pleasure, emotion and biological connection, marriage is reduced to a legal transaction. What a waste of life’s potential.

On the other hand, living according to the intent of God in his creation allows the purpose of his creation to be fulfilled. And that is beautiful. Remember, the original liar is also a thief and a murderer, whose evil intent is to take the real life out of living. When our neighborhoods lose the true value of sexuality as God intended it, it affects everyone. If some wise parents don’t offer an alternative view, their youth and the neighborhood will experience the effects of that devaluation.

A Second Chance

What about those who weren’t taught this kind of wisdom in their youth, or those who were, but refused to pay attention? There is still hope for a do-over! We can’t erase the past, but we can learn from it, and it can lead us to a new start, where we can be born of the Spirit and become sons of God with full family privileges in his family. Now we have a Father who guides us according to his loving purposes by the gift of his Spirit. He takes the shame of our previous state and the guilt of our previous rebellion upon himself and declares us righteous, by his grace. We have a real Father, with a real family in a new neighborhood, with a new reason to live. Amazingly, this can even happen in the midst of poor natural circumstances.

We Can All Help the Young Learn Wisdom

Scenes of societal turmoil, as bad as they are, can prompt us to examine eternal truths and get involved with real people who are hurting. While we can’t provide every child with a healthy family in a poverty-free neighborhood, we can seek opportunities to get involved. There is an eternal truth that, once applied, brings the best out in life, no matter what the circumstances. Without parental care (both natural and spiritual) peer pressure will win the day.  But with the wisdom God imparts there is hope for something far better. We can pray and work to train and support wise parents, healthy families, safe neighborhoods and new opportunities for all children to flourish in the wisdom of God.

It is a dream worth dreaming. And it can be done.

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