This week school started which means that students are getting off the bus with homework neatly tucked away in their backpacks, but it’s not just students who are having to learn these days, it’s parents too. How many of you have had to help a child with math problems? If you have then you know that we aren’t supposed to just add or subtract, multiply or divide anymore, we are supposed to find ways of doing math that make us feel comfortable and we need to always remember that 10 is our friend. Let me show you, I’ve been learning this myself this week and I think I have it.
|Counting up method of Subtraction|
|Lattice Method of Multiplication
28 x 36 = 1008
As I was learning all of this I thought to myself that this new math doesn’t really look very new, in fact it looks kind of similar to this.
So it’s not just children and youth who have to start learning again when the school year starts, we all do, so today I want us to look at some wisdom for students – meaning all of us. This is timeless wisdom that is good for children and youth as they return to school and interact with their friends, but it is also wisdom we need to take to college, into the workplace, and use as we spend time with our family and live together in our church and community. This wisdom comes from the book of wisdom, Proverbs, chapter 22.
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches, to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
#1. SEEK a good name.
Over the past couple of weeks I have taken part in 5 funerals and one thing that I never heard said was how much silver or gold these people left behind. No one stood up and gave a testimony to the great riches these people amassed on earth. What was shared was how good these people were.
I heard about a man with a servant’s heart who gave sacrificially to help build our community. I heard about a couple who opened their home to dozens of children and helped young adults develop solid families. I heard about a man who could make people smile and laugh and always lifted others up. I heard about men who served this church and community with great joy and faithfulness and were willing to help anyone they could. I heard about people who placed faith in God, loved their families and lived to make our church and community a better place. These people were more focused on living good faithful lives than amassing gold and silver. They developed a good name and lived life with character and strong values in order to become people who were respected and honored by those who knew them.
We need to spend more time seeking a good name, than setting our hearts and minds on gold or silver. In school that might mean being good sports instead of winning at all costs. At our jobs it might mean working to be part of a team instead of climbing the corporate ladder. At home it might mean giving in to our spouse and not always demanding our way and in life it means being more concerned about what comes from our heart than what goes in to our wallets.
Jesus said, do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up treasure in heaven. Matthew 9:19-20. This treasure in heaven is the good fruit that comes out of our lives. It’s the loving acts, thoughtful words and faithful deeds that flow from us as we seek a good name. This way of life needs to be embraced by us all and it needs to be taught to our children and grandchildren. I am thankful for those simple things my parents and grandparents taught me growing up, like saying please and thank you and always being willing to go the extra mile in helping someone. They taught me the value of a good name instead of always looking to get ahead
The second piece of wisdom we find in Proverbs 22:2. Rich and poor, we all have this in common, the LORD is the Maker of us all.
#2. SEE the good in all people.
As we look at the world today, it seems like we have forgotten this wisdom. We are quick to divide ourselves into different groups because if we can divide ourselves then we can think highly of ourselves and put others down. So we divide ourselves as
rich / poor
black / white
American citizen / undocumented worker
Republican / Democrat
Christian / Muslim
Dividing people makes it easier for us to judge others and feel superior and yet what we forget is that God is the one who has made us all and each person on earth has been created in the image of God. We need to learn that all people have been created in the image of God and that all people deserve to be treated with honor, dignity and respect.
One of the greatest gifts that I get to see on a daily basis here at the church is lines of children walking to the bathroom. Do you know why this is such a great sight, because when they are very young, they all walk together holding hands (picture). There is no rich or poor. There is no liberal or conservative. There is no blue collar or white color. They are all equal and important and loved by God and they are loved by others and as much as children are able to, they are loved by each other. It’s a great picture of what our world should be, and can be if we are willing to remember that in every person on earth there is a reflection of God. If we can teach this and live this out in our lives then our schools and community will become healthier places to live
The third piece of wisdom we find is from Proverbs 22:4. Humility and fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.
#3 SINCERE hearts build a solid life.
It is humility and faith in God that gives shape to a sincere heart and humility isn’t thinking negatively about ourselves it is thinking more of others. Philippians 2:3 says; in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interest of others.
A sincere heart places the needs of others before our own and looks to Jesus as an example of how to live our lives. Jesus was always placing the needs of others before his own and he went out of his way to serve and help others. Jesus went out of his way to serve us by taking our sin to the cross so that we could experience forgiveness and the fullness of life and that is the model of how we should live. We need to teach this kind of humility to our children but we need to teach it not with words but with our actions.
Last week I had dinner with some friends from my church youth group and our youth group leaders. As we were reminiscing, our youth leader said to me, Andy I remember how patient your mom was. Every Sunday night you would hang around and talk with your friends until we had to kick you out of the church and your Mom was always so patient just sitting in the car waiting. I laughed and said, you don’t know the half of it. She sat at piano lessons, tuba lessons, guitar lessons, band practice and spent a weekend sitting in the car when I made All State Band. If I have learned anything about being humble, it wasn’t from a book or even the Bible, it was from watching my Mom consider my sisters and me better than herself and looking to our interests and meeting our needs before her own. (Thanks Mom.) May we live out this wisdom with our children and in our own families and church.
The fourth piece of wisdom is from Proverbs 22:9. A generous person will be blessed as they share their food with the poor.
#4 SHARE what you have.
Isn’t this something we learn in kindergarten? Isn’t this one of the first pieces of wisdom we learn as we head off to school? Share. Share your lunch, share your crayons, share you toys. Share. Today we still need to share and we are never too old to share. We need to share our time, share our faith, share our resources, share our love, share our families and share the fullness of who we are with the people God has placed in our lives. Today there are people who need time, attention, love and support and we have that to share. Today there are people who need to know the love of God and that the grace and power of Jesus can work in our lives and we have that knowledge and faith to share. Sharing is one of the basic pieces of wisdom we teach our children and again it needs to be something we don’t just teach, but live out in our lives.
The fifth and last piece of wisdom comes from Proverbs 22:11. Those whose speech is gracious will have the king for their friend.
#5 SPEAK kindly.
In a world of harsh and critical rhetoric, kind words are not only refreshing, but they are powerful. Here is what else the wisdom of proverbs teaches us about kind words.
Proverbs 15:1 – A kind word turns away wrath.
Proverbs 16:24 – Kind words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 24:11 – A kind word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Kind and support words are needed today and they are needed at an ever increasing rate. Since we tend to remember all the negative things said about us and not the positive, it takes that many more positive and kind words to shape our hearts and lives. Children need to hear kind words. Parents need to hear kind words. Teachers and coaches need to hear kind words. Bosses and those we work with need to hear kind words. Politicians and police need to hear kind words. Speaking kindly can make a difference in the lives of others, but more importantly, it makes a difference in us. The more kind things we say, the more kind and generous we become and if you don’t believe me, then give it a try. This week try and speak only kind words to those around you and see if your attitude and perspective changes.
So this brings us to some homework. Look at your next steps because this our homework for the week:
Wisdom for Students
Here is our homework for the week:
Lesson 1. SEEK a good name. Proverbs 22:1
Assignment: Instead of trying to get ahead this week, find one way to help someone else get ahead and succeed.
Lesson 2. SEE the good in all people. Proverbs 22:2
Assignment: Look for God in people around you who might be very different than you are. Write down how they are a reflection of God and if appropriate, share it with them.
*Extra Credit: Reach across the divide to build a relationship with someone new.
Lesson 3. SINCERE hearts build a solid life. Proverbs 22:4
Assignment: Place the needs of someone you know at school, at work, in the church or in the community before your own and meet that need.
Lesson 4. SHARE what you have. Proverbs 22:9
Assignment: Share what you have! Give away your time, faith, love, energy, food or finances to someone who needs it and needs you.
Lesson 5. SPEAK kindly. Proverbs 22:11
Assignment: Every day this week speak only kind words to those at school, at work, on your team, in your home or in your circle of friends. Document how your heart and life changes.
Sign up to be part of an upcoming small group to learn how to finish this statement with wisdom and faith: LIFE IS .