05 February 2009

The Wise Builder and The Foolish Waster: Give your child Proverbs

It can be challenging to plan biblical instruction for your kids.  I'm sort of a hack, but for 2 years, I have been working with my kids (minus Whitney, 2) to develop an understanding of the Bible as a whole (context, meta-narrative, themes, etc).  We finished last fall with some Gospel training.  The kids memorized a Gospel presentation to get the concepts of sin, justice, substitution, atonement and repentance floating around in their thoughts.  

Last month I felt it was time for Hudson (7) to start having some time on his own to contemplate the Bible and pray. The wisdom of the Proverbs seemed like a great place to start (bite-sized thoughts, applicative to his life) but he wasn't quite ready to read them proficiently, so I tried to have him sit and listen to a recording of a chapter on repeat for 10-15 minutes.  The idea was that he could write down what touched his heart and then we would discuss his thoughts.  The "I'm-suffering-under-'bible-boredom-torture'" look on his face revealed the limitations of that idea.   Despite the failed experiment in "auditory bible learning" one good thing did happen;  I was reminded of a theme from Proverbs and a new idea was born.  The book is dedicated to painting a contrast between wisdom and foolishness; between a "Wise Builder" and a "Foolish Waster."  

For the last couple of weeks Hudson and I have been reading the Proverbs together (starting in chapter 9) and making lists.  We have a simple sheet of paper with two columns.  One column is entitled "The Foolish Waster" and the other column is entitled "The Wise Builder."  As I read, Hudson will raise his hand when he hears a description of either one. This exercise has proven to be a fantastic way to examine this biblical wisdom.  We can only do about 10-12 verses everyday but the time is very productive.  Hitting Proverbs after getting the big picture of the Bible and a decent understanding of the Gospel has proven helpful for Hudson. That background helps him sort out the themes of foolishness, sin, wisdom and the role of instruction and discipline while keeping Jesus and the Gospel at the center of it all.

Here's our list to date to get you thinking:
"The Wise Builder"
  • heeds discipline - 10:17
  • holds his tongue - 10:19
  • delights in wisdom - 10:23
  • fears the LORD - 10:27
  • speaks wisely - 10:31
  • has integrity - 11:3
  • is righteous - 11:6
  • doesn't gossip - 11:13
  • sows righteousness and reaps a sure reward - 11:18
  • is generous and prospers - 11:25
  • thrives like a green leaf - 11:28
  • wins souls - 11:30
  • loves discipline and knowledge - 12:1
  • his speech rescues him - 12:6
  • his house stand firm - 12:7
  • cares for the needs of his animal - 12:10
  • works his land and has abundant food - 12:11
  • listens to advice - 12:15
  • overlooks an insult 12:16
  • brings healing with his words - 12:18
"The Foolish Waster"
  • ignores correction - 10:17
  • spreads slander - 10:18
  • has no judgment - 10:21
  • enjoys doing bad - 10:23
  • sees God's ways as ruin - 10:29
  • says one thing and does another - 11:3
  • is cruel and brings trouble on himself - 11:17
  • his hope ends in wrath - 11:23
  • is not generous and comes to poverty - 11:24,26
  • becomes a servant to the wise - 11:29
  • hates correction - 12:1
  • a disgraceful wife is a foolish waster - 12:4
  • is despised because of his warped mind - 12:8
  • chases fantasies - 12:11
  • trapped by sinful talk - 12:13
  • shows his annoyance at once - 12:16
  • has reckless words that pierce like a sword - 12:18 
Everyday we read the lists together and it has been a blessing to see Hudson grow in a sense of a life wasted and a life that has eternal significance.  Everyday he sees something in this list that is applicable and impossible and so, everyday, he is growing in a sense of his need for the Gospel and for the sanctification of the Spirit.   We finish with a simple prayer claiming the promise of James 1:5 for both of us.


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