Parents you must teach from your heart to your children’s hearts. If your combination of biblical commands and applied wisdom centers on your personal convenience and preferences your instruction will lack power. It will only serve to provoke your children to anger.
Remember, wisdom is the skill of applying God’s truth to everyday life situations. The father in Proverbs 7 took God’s truth and skillfully applied it to the sexual temptations that he knew his son would face. By contrast, rules learned by rote have no chance of defeating sexual temptation. The instruction that Proverbs 4 & 7 insists upon takes time, skill, preparation, prayer, and a heart for God. You must know the relational climate of your children’s world so that you can speak wisdom into that world. The father in Proverbs 7 knew exactly how sexual temptation would present itself to his son. He tailored his words to match the temptation. You must do no less.
In contrast, legalism laughs at the precise proactive measures of Proverbs 4:24-27. But, the Holy Spirit knows that the mouth, eyes and feet have a direct connection to the heart. Faithful obedience from the heart protects the heart.
Legalism has given obedience a bad name. Legalism is an unthinking approach to the Christian life, as in “give me some rules to follow and I won’t have to think, just do.” It is easy to utter a rule. It takes a relationship of love to nurture obedience. Legalism is a shortcut to obedience.
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