If someone were to ask me: “what do you think is the most important ingredient to a healthy family,” what would I say in response? I would suppose that my response would be for the family, especially the parent(s) to display a reverent and healthy dose of respect and fear of the almighty God. A child or wife may not remember what was preached last week from the local pastor, but if they see and know that you as a father, or you as a mother truly have a reverent fear of the Lord they’ll take that to heart.
In the book of Proverbs we find that the very opening of the book reveals the key to a healthy life before the Lord. Solomon, the author of Proverbs, opens the book with a word of instruction about the importance of knowledge, wisdom, insight, righteousness, justice, and equity. Yet these are fruits of something deeper. As important as knowledge is, as important as wisdom and insight are for a balanced life, Solomon took it back one step further. Solomon stated, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
When a family is in good health the leader or leaders of the family are modeling an attitude that shows to all who will observe that they are truly submitted to the ultimate leader of all. The word fear here means a reverence to such a degree that it changes the way you act. So how does this relate to knowledge? How does this form the most fundamental element for health in a Christian family?
It is rather simple. People, especially children, have something called discernment skills. And if a person is a believer he or she may even have a spiritual gift called discernment (see 1 Cor. 12:8-10). A person can discern, sense, feel, and/or see whether or not there is true fear and respect for the Lord or if the actions are being done with no heart felt connection to God. In short, if a person does not fear God his life, his speech, and his actions are often fake and hypocritical. Jesus Christ our Lord taught us to “fear him [God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). Solomon sees the beginning of all real knowledge flowing from this root.
Practical Application for the Family
Parent(s) there is a danger that looms over the horizon. You may think that the greatest error you can make is by not knowing some truth and thus without a particular knowledge of a particular subject you may consequently damage your child or family. But that is not the biggest issue. The larger and more important issue is do you truly in your heart fear the Almighty God of the universe? Do you have such a deep respect for him that it flows from your lips and actions? Is God a being that you speak flippantly about or do you speak of him with a sense of awe in your tone and in your choice of words? Granted, we don’t want to present God as some cosmic cop just waiting to pounce on us for every error we commit. That is not what we mean when we say respect and fear. But what we do mean is that our image and view of God must be one to where we recognize that God is the author, sustainer, and ruler over all. He is the Creator and we are the creation. So you may now be asking: “ok, well how can I practically know if I do have that type of respect and fear of God in me.” Solomon gave us the practical test in the same verse. Those who truly have a healthy does of fear or reverence for God are teachable people. In contrast to those who fear God are those who are fools. The Bible says: “fools despise wisdom and instruction.” A person who fears God will be willing to listen, evaluate, and consider instruction along with wisdom. What is wisdom? Wisdom is the art of being able to understand and apply truth to real life situations. It is the opposite of theoretical knowledge. Therefore, if you truly fear God you’ll desire to model a lifestyle of gaining knowledge in order to apply it to real life situations. Your fear of God will translate in action instead of stubbornness and an attitude that despises instruction. If you, however, don’t like to learn through wisdom and instruction then in prayer admit that to God and ask him to change your heart. But then be ready for him to test you to see if you are willing to be taught. Your family’s health is at stake by how you as a parent revere the ultimate Parent!
Dr. Keith Sherlin
Article from Disciple Like Jesus