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Isn’t it interesting when you’re reading the Bible and you see something you haven’t noticed before?

That happened to me yesterday as I was reading Proverbs 31. Believe me, this is not the first time I’ve read this particular chapter – the one that most people look to to describe an ideal wife.

Here’s what I noticed:

Proverbs 31:1
The sayings of King Lemuel—an oracle his mother taught him: (emphasis added)

My first thought was “Isn’t that funny?! The chapter that we often use to describe an ideal wife and it was taught to him by his mother!” But then I reflected a little longer – in many cases a mother might be the best equipped to teach her sons how to look for a good wife.

Now I could certainly take this very short text and make it into “children honor your parents.” I could point out how we accept disobedience as being “strong willed” and how marketing to teens tries to separate them from the influence of their parents so that they’ll make bad decisions. I might even be right to do that. But today I’d like to go a different direction.

Parents teach your children

What makes this passage interesting to me is that King Lemuel’s mother was careful to teach him the things that were important. We need to be careful to do the same.

After all, having school teachers and Sunday school teachers is a good thing. And being one of those, I can say that we do our best to make sure that we’re teaching your children to love God and follow his commands. But I can make a much stronger case from Scripture about how parents should raise their children to love God and follow his commands.

I suspect that some parents might be concerned about teaching their children how to live because they’re worried about imprinting children with their “baggage.” I know that I am concerned that when I have children, they will be imprinted with my baggage. I can even say that I think it’s good to be concerned about that.

Sometimes it’s hard to separate our understanding of God and how to live in a way that honors him from how we were raised by our culture (or subculture). We sure don’t want to teach our children things that are wrong. But before we discard all of our potential baggage, I think it’s important to check through it to see if there are any hidden treasures.

Once we’ve found the treasures, we can discard the rest and focus on what is most important about what we’ve been taught.

How can we know?

It sounds simple enough, but mining for gold in the dirt of our cultural baggage can be difficult. It can only truly be accomplished in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit as we search the Word of God.

How about you?

I’m still working through this as an intellectual exercise. Many of you have very practical experience and I’d love it if you’d share your experiences with me.

What treasures have you found in your baggage?
Do you have any secrets for how to search through all the cultural junk to find what is good and leads your children towards God?
Any other advice for a soon-to-be father?

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