It's in the Family
March 4, 2018
Families often keep things for generations. A father hands over a beloved wristwatch to his son while a mother bestows a sentimental piece of jewelry to her daugther. Bookshelves in the living room are lined with old framed photographs and charming little keepsakes. There is furniture and books and clothing and toys. And there is of course grandma’s amazing secret family recipe dish that everyone loves to eat during the holidays. There are many things that families keep from generations of old. And there are many things that families pass on to generations that follow.
But a family can also keep and pass on things that you cannot buy or sell. A family can keep a heritage or a legacy. A family can pass on a history or a name. And it can be for better or for worse. For example, on the one hand, a family can keep and pass down good reputation or honor. On the other hand, a family can keep and pass down the crippling addiction of a substance or the shadowy hurt of a divorce. There are many things that families keep from generations of old. And there are many things that families pass on to generations that follow.
In the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, we see a father speaking to his son about wisdom and how to be a good king for Israel. But here in Proverbs 4, we see the father do something that we have never seen him do before. The father tells his son about when he was once a son. The father tells his son about his own father. And the father tells his son that there is a family heritage and legacy that must be kept, a history and a name that must be passed down.
And that heritage, that legacy, is the wisdom of God.
This is epic. Think about it. If the father here is King Solomon, then the father of the father and the grandfather of the son is none other than King David. In this profound moment, the veil is pulled back. And it is revealed that the call to get wisdom is an old call. It is revealed that the love and the embrace for wisdom is a family heritage and a legacy of the throne of David. Solomon is basically telling his children, “Listen to me. I had a father. He loved me. And when I was young, when I was his only begotten son, he taught me things about the wisdom of God. He invited me to get this wisdom from above. I listened to my father and to his words. And I am glad that I did. I love you now, just as my father loved me. And the things that my father taught me, I now teach you.” There are many things that families keep from generations of old. And there are many things that families pass on to generations that follow. The father of the book of Proverbs calls his children to keep the family heritage and legacy going. He calls them to continue to pass down a history and a name.
Oh what a beautiful picture of lineage and love! Think about it. Solomon’s father was David. David’s father was Jesse. Jesse’s grandfather was Boaz. Boaz’s great, great, great, great, great grandfather was Judah. And I hope you know now where I am going with this. Before Judah there was Abraham. Before Abraham there was Noah. Before Noah there was Seth. And before Seth there was Adam. This family kept the heritage of God’s promise of child who would crush the head of the serpent. This family passed down the legacy of faith in the Lord’s covenant of grace. There was an inheritance and a treasure to be had.
And the father of Proverbs urges his sons to have the wisdom of such promise and faith.
Thus a father like the Philippian jailer hands over the beloved gospel call to his entire household while a mother like Eunice bestows the covenantal gospel call to her son Timothy - a gospel call that she herself received from her mother Lois. Hebrews 11 is lined with old assurances of things hoped for and little mementoes of convictions of things not seen. There are those who stopped the mouths of lions and those who received back their dead by resurrection and those who were tortured and those who were destitute, afflicted, mistreated. And then there are people like John Calvin and the first foreign missionaries in Asia and so many more unknown people who were an amazing part of God’s secret recipe of sovereignty that led to you being here right now in a church behind a gas station on March 4, 2018.
You’ve never met these people. But you will soon. Because they are your real family members. And their heritage and legacy is yours. Their salvation and life is yours. Their graceful garland and beautiful crown is yours. Their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is yours.
Praise be to our King! Jesus, the one and only begotten Son of the Father, did the will of his Father. Jesus held fast in his heart the law of God for us; he kept the commandments and died for us. Jesus became to us wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30). Jesus loved and guarded and prized his church as his bride. As the exalted and glorified and risen king, Jesus blesses you with his grace and has a crown of life waiting for you in his kingdom of the new heavens and the new earth. And as your Wonderful Counselor, Jesus tenderly leads you and compassionately teaches you as you go through all the ups and downs and highs and lows of this pilgrim life.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, I repeat the words of an old brother and good friend: “Get wisdom…. Do not forsake her….”
And brothers and sisters, I urge you to understand the value of the wisdom of Christ and make it a heritage and legacy for you and your present and future family. Imagine that you had a son or a daugther. What would you wish for them? Would you wish that they had wealth or friends or power or romance? Would you teach them a wisdom that is not from above? Or would you wish that they had repentance and faith and the wisdom and the fear of the Lord? Would you teach them what true success and true blessedness looks like? Would you be glad if your kid grew up with a perfect life… but without a perfect righteousness? Or would you be okay if your kid grew up poor, having few friends, weak and single… but loves God with all his heart, soul and mind, and loves her neighbor as herself? The world has a definition of wisdom. But so does God. Your child may one day ask you why you are a Christian. If that day comes for you, I hope that you will be ready to tell the story from the beginning and declare the law and the gospel and call your son or daugther to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus.
There are many things that families keep from generations of old. And there are many things that families pass on to generations that follow. Families keep wristwatches and hand down pieces of jewelry. And families line their living room bookshelves with old framed photographs and charming little keepsakes. Do you know why people do this? People do this because they want to remember people, places and things that they love. People do this because people die.
But what if you didn’t have to keep family wristwatches and pieces of family jewelry and old framed family photographs and charming little family keepsakes? What if, instead, you could keep your family? What if your mother or father or grandparents or siblings, what if your children, what if the people you love can never die?
There is no more “what if” for us who are in Christ. For our God is not God of the dead, but of the living. And that is something worth keeping and passing on.
Summary of Sermon
A beloved wristwatch or a sentimental piece of jewelry. An old photograph or a little keepsake. There are many things that families keep from generations of old. And there are many things that families pass on to generations that follow.
But a family can also keep and pass on things that you cannot buy or sell. A family can keep and pass on a heritage or a legacy. A history or a name.
In Proverbs 4, the father reveals that the call to seek God's wisdom has been in the family. When he was a son, his father taught him about the wisdom of God.
But this heritage and legacy can be traced all the way back through redemptive history to Adam and God's ultimate promise of salvation and call for faith in the wisdom of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This beautiful lineage and love continues today. We are called to keep and pass on the same wisdom of the saints of old - many of whom we have never even met.
Let us make the call to God's wisdom a heritage and legacy for our families as we wait for the return of the Lord. Let us teach our children the wisdom of God and hope and pray for their repentance and faith in Christ. And let us give thanks and praise to God. For we know of a way to forever keep our family and the people we love.
Questions for Discussion & Sharing
A beloved wristwatch or a sentimental piece of jewelry. An old photograph or a little keepsake. What special items or meaningful objects are in your family?
What are some examples of heritages or legacies that a family cannot buy or sell? What heritages or legacies would you like to pass on to your children?
What challenges do you think parents face in raising their children when there is a wisdom from above and a wisdom that is not from above?
Imagine that your son or daugther asked you why people die or why you are a Christian. How would you reply?