Proverbs 22 carries on the theme of looking at how to live wisely and well. We see particularly how this affects family life ( “train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it” Prov 22:6). It can be very difficult, being a parent – I consider it the hardest job I’ve ever done! There are so many pitfalls and it’s so difficult to keep that long-term perspective, whether you’re in the middle of listening to a baby with colic screaming the place down, in the middle of a supermarket while your toddler launches a tantrum because you’ve refused to buy a certain item, in the middle of consoling a heartbroken child who ‘doesn’t fit in’ with his peers or in the middle of the stormy adolescent period when communication often seems to break down completely. Proverbs 22:15 tells us “Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.” Parenthood is not for the faint-hearted! But it is good to know that God can be involved in every aspect of our lives and ultimately we have to understand that “a sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.” (Prov 22:1) Often, as parents, we are overly concerned with providing materially for our children, but we need to be prepared to give our time and affection as well, for children need that daily input as much as any material riches we can pass on to them.

Proverbs is about ‘sterling principles’ (Prov 22:2-21) to guide us through life. These are often very down-to-earth: don’t exploit the poor (Prov 22:23), don’t get into debt (Prov 22:26-27), watch the kind of company you keep, because bad temper is contagious (Prov 22:24-25), be fair in everything you do (Prov 22:28) and be skilled in the work you do (Prov 22:29). These are the principles by which we should live. We pass on to our children far more than material possessions: we pass on values, principles, attitudes and beliefs. Let’s make sure those things are aligned with God’s word, so we don’t cause our children to stumble through our inconsistencies and failings.