"My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:"
The family has been called an institution, and like any institution it needs rules. Rules serve as guides, guards and goads! In order to have peace and harmony in the home, everyone needs to be on the same page. Imagine how confusing it would be if a nation did not have a constitution by which to govern itself. In the same way, if our families don’t have some guidelines, or if there are selectively enforced rules, there is going to be chaos. It is wise and valuable for both parent and child to have consistent guidelines so that each family member can know what’s expected. Family rules are wonderful guidelines that reinforce character traits, establish healthy boundaries, and encourage life skills.
Setting up family rules is like establishing a constitution for the home. In America there are a lot of different local codes but there’s only one constitution. The constitution has remained a core curriculum, a set of values, and away to keep its people going in the same direction. The guiding principles of the home become the basis by which families can make good and wise decisions.
We notice in these verses that God is attempting to inspire good direction in life. He reminds families that there are great rewards in having principles, commandments and laws for your home.
3 Positive Attributes of Family Rules:
1. They GUIDE Us
“When thou goest, it shall lead thee...” (Proverbs 6:22).
Scriptural based rules will lead us into the things that we should do. Every family should have good, positive and redeeming elements in it like quality education and worshiping God. Besides leading into good things, godly rules also lead us away from destructive things as well.
We once rented a little fishing boat and went out onto the lake. As we were getting into the boat, the deck hands reminded us of areas that we might like to visit. They also told us of little buoys in the water that mark areas that are off limits. These were areas that were very rocky and shallow, and if you got too close, you would damage the propeller and likely get stranded. The buoys were there to tell us where to go, but they were also there to tell us where not to go. It is easy to apply this illustration to the ways family rules provide a guide to a happy home.
2. They GUARD Us
“...when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee” (Proverbs 6:22).
As you sleep, your conscience will be clear. Having a clear conscience is the world’s greatest sleeping pill! There’s something amazing about that divine anesthetic called a clear conscience. Going to sleep every night sensing that as far as you know, your conscience is void of offence towards God and man, is a sweet way to live.
3. They GOAD Us
“…For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:” (Proverbs 6:23).
Family rules prompt us to follow a higher standard. I have never understood why some people get all bent out of shape at the pastor when they go to church and hear Scripturally based morals preached. Honestly, that’s what I want to hear when I go to church. I want to be convicted, or goaded, into good choices. I want to know how I can change and honor Christ more. I want to get rid of the junk that’s keeping me from following the Lord. I want to hear about the right way to live. That’s why Christianity is called “that way” in the book of Acts (Acts 19:9). Christians are the only people I know that can come down to an altar and weep their eyes out, feel like dirt and then walk home excited and believing that God is wonderful and life is good! God’s Word has a wonderful way of speaking to us.
One of the best ways to establish family rules is to do so early (when you “awake” as Solomon says here in Proverbs 6). We should make a family constitution at the “awakening” of our marriage (wedding) or at the “awakening” of having children. Having a family Bible time in the morning (when you awake), several days a week, was always a great time for us to establish and go over our family rules. You might say, “I don’t think we need more rules.” I would agree that we don’t need more meaningless codes. What we do need, however, is a core “curriculum” as it were, to keep us all going in the same direction.
In a furniture store, I once saw a nice wall decoration that had the words “Family Rules” on it printed in a nice decorative way. It was handsomely done with some good insights. It did not contain any Christian values, nor was it the most important truths for a family, however the decoration brought up a wonderful concept to me, and that is to keep your “constitution” visible. It would be good if every family would decide on and then purchase or make a Family Rules sign. As we come up with these family rules they must be:
Notice the thought here in verse 20, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:” The word “law” is the word Torah in the Hebrew language. The Torah usually refers to the first five books of the Bible – the law. This certainly implies that a father’s and mother’s words, directions and principles are on the same page, and that page is biblically based. The firm stand of every Christian home should be, “The principles of this family are Christ centered. All we do and say is for the glory of God. In this home, Christ is Lord. In this home, Christ is the head. In this home, the Bible is the final authority.” What is the final authority? It’s the Word of God! Our home is established on the commandments and the laws as contained in the Bible.
It seems that more and more in today’s world, we find young people not listening to parents. I think one reason they don’t listen to parents is because parents don’t command attention. When Samuel in the Old Testament spoke, it says, “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19). This is what I desire when I speak to my children, I don’t want my words to fall to the ground. I don’t want them to be brushed off as though they mean nothing. When I talk to my sons and my daughters, I am praying that they’re going to listen. Children and youth listen when we speak Bible based words in our home.
The father’s words are “commands”, and the mother’s words are “laws.” We’re not talking about just “preferences” here. We’re talking about someone who speaks the Word of the Lord. Biblically based commands are ones that are going to get the job done. Parents need to know the Bible so that the words that they speak, though they are not exactly word for word what the Bible says, are based on Scriptural truths. Some commentaries have suggested that the use of two different Hebrew words, “commandment” (precepts) and “law” (instruction), may suggest that the father’s role is to be more principle oriented and the mother’s words might be more practical and individualized – a great thought. I know this much for sure, that whatever we do, our commands must be Biblical. For example: In my home, we do church, that’s just what we do. We don’t wake up on Sunday mornings and say, “I wonder if we should go?” We don’t look at each other on Sunday afternoons and say, “Do you want to go back tonight?” We do church. Never once did my children say on Sunday night, “Can I stay home tonight and watch TV?” Not once! Because they already knew dad’s answer!
True religion should be parentally initiated. There is a blight of child-centered education nowadays. We can see in these verses that it ought to be the parents command. The Bible doesn’t say to, “keep the children’s commands” or “keep the teenagers commands.” These fearful public school administrators who allow teenagers to establish the rules, are just not wise! I can remember being in a progressive class as a child in public school, and our teacher somehow was sold on the idea of having a democratic society in the classroom, the result – classroom chaos! The classes that were traditionally led and taught offered a much better education. We simply cannot allow the children and youth in our home to make their own rules.
One of the things I’ve said to our children over the years when they don’t keep doing what I asked was, “You don’t get to rewrite the rules.” There may be some additional information that I need to know so that we can adjust some things, and that’s fine. And there certainly ought to be an appeal process for those occasions. But that doesn’t mean the rules have changed. They’ve been spoken and that’s that. They’re the father’s commands and the laws of mom.
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