Parenting by the book: parenting books abound today and most of us have probably read one or more of them at some time. But when was the last time you read the parenting book? All of God’s Word is written from the perspective of a Father to His children. Proverbs, in particular, contains a lifetime of wisdom for parenting and for sharing with our children.
Verse 1 starts out “My son, …” Solomon was teaching his son and, of course, God is teaching His children.
Proverbs is full of instruction for us in all of our daily living, but it also gives us lots of wisdom to help us be godly parents. In today’s reading we find some strong warnings about sexual issues:
1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
Lend your ear to my understanding,
2 That you may preserve discretion,
And your lips may keep knowledge.
3 For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
And her mouth is smoother than oil;
4 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of hell.
6 Lest you ponder her path of life—
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them.
I can’t help but wonder how many fewer teen pregnancies and other sexual consequences there might be if we as fathers and mothers faithfully taught the truths in Proverbs 5 to our sons and daughters.
Verse 3 speaks of the “immoral woman.” Most of us don’t think of our teenage daughters as “immoral women” when they text “inappropriate” photos of themselves to some boy, but they are behaving like it. Perhaps we need to do a better job of teaching them what the Word of God says about their behavior.
It’s the Word of God that will pierce their hearts.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.12).
While we’ve been deceived into thinking we need to soften the truth to protect their “self-esteem,” our sons and our daughters are becoming involved in sexual activity and making decisions which can alter their lives for years to come.
Of course, the principles in Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible are not limited to those on sexual behavior. God’s Word provides the help we need to live godly and to instruct our children in every area of life (2 Pet. 1.2-4).
In yesterday’s reading (Gen. 38) we saw Judah’s private immorality, followed by his initial public self-righteousness when he condemned his daughter-in-law to death.
Here in 39 we see Joseph’s righteous behavior even when tempted in private.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.
How easy it would have been for him to say, “What’s the use? What has doing good gotten me so far?”
And talk about temptation! Here’s this woman throwing herself at him, but he shows honor to his master even in his speech (a proper attitude toward authority). Most importantly, he says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (v. 9).
Joseph realized that sin is first and foremost against God. While our sins can create major problems in other relationships with people, the biggest problem they create is in our relationship with God (Gal. 6.7-8; Heb. 12.7-11). As Joseph said, how then can I do this …?
Sexual immorality, lying, stealing, drunkenness, outbursts of anger, and other sins of commission (what we do) are not the only ways we sin. We can also commit sins of omission, things we should do, but don’t—like forgiving someone who has wronged us or taking full responsibility for our own failings.
James 4.17 says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
But, after repeated attempts to seduce Joseph, Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses him of trying to rape her. When she tells her husband, he has Joseph thrown into prison.
Tested & Tried
Why would God allow all this to happen to Joseph? Had God left him? Was He punishing him?
We know that isn’t the case, because the text repeatedly says that the Lord was with him:
2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lordwas with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate (Gen. 39.2-6).
20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper (Gen. 39.20-23).
All of God’s servants are tested and tried. Sometimes He uses other people, even sinful people like Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar’s wife, to do it. Abraham was tested as he waited for the promised child and then by the command to sacrifice that child. The “mama’s boy” Jacob was tested as he was forced to flee the home life he loved and as he was betrayed by his father-in-law. Later we’ll see Moses being tested and refined as he spends forty years herding sheep … and David by running from Saul for years.
The Apostle Paul said of himself:
“From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness …” (2 Cor. 11.24-27).
We, too, are tested and like the men and women in the Bible. Sometimes He uses sinful people (a difficult spouse, child or other family member). Sometimes He uses our circumstances (financial hardship, sickness, loss, mistreatment, betrayal or some other difficulty). Continue reading →