“Do as I say, not as I do,” is, of course, a horrible parenting philosophy. The Bible calls upon all in places of leadership and/or authority to model the attitudes, behaviors, and practices they expect of those under their sphere of influence.
For instance, pastor Timothy was exhorted to be an example of the believers (1 Timothy 4:12). Peter instructed the church’s overseers to be ensamples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). Paul admonished the Corinthians to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Hebrews were encouraged to submit themselves to the leadership of those whose faith they could follow (Hebrews 13:7).
Likewise, parents are instructed to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The use of the word “bring” points us to the aforementioned truth. One cannot “bring” another to a place where he is not. So in order for a parent to bring a child up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the parent must be nurtured and admonished by the Lord to a place of spiritual maturity.
Certainly, there is nothing more powerful in a Christian upbringing than proper biblical instruction coupled with the parents’ real, genuine example of a joy-filled godly life.
And certainly, there is nothing more damaging than the hypocrisy of parents who fail to model those things they claim to be most important when they sit in the church pew on Sunday morning.
All that to introduce a truth impressed upon me by today’s Proverb.
In Proverbs 5, the writer gives his son one of many warnings regarding strange women (see also chapters 2, 7, 9, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, and 30).
This becomes interesting when you consider the identity of the writer. Who better to warn his son about strange women than… SOLOMON!
You know, the guy with 700 wives and 300 concubines that turned his heart away after other gods (1 Kings 11:1-10).
OK, so he knew whereof he spoke. He had firsthand knowledge of all the dangers and the pitfalls of the strange woman.
But think of this from Rehoboam’s perspective. How would you like to be the one to have your dad Solomon lecture you about strange women?
“My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of lie, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth…” (Proverbs 5:1-7)
Talk about hypocrisy.
Now, I’m not sure when this was written. Maybe it was before 1 Kings 11, and maybe it was after. But whenever it was, the example Solomon set was nowhere close to the instruction Solomon gave. A classic case of horrific “do as I say, not as I do” parenting, with quite predictable results (18 wives and 60 concubines, 2 Chronicles 11:21).
This all becomes even more interesting when you go back and again consider the identity of the writer of Proverbs 5. No, not Solomon. The real author. The one who inspired the words… the Holy Spirit of God!
This means the lectures Solomon gave his son(s) in Proverbs 5 (and 2 and 7 and 9 and…), though delivered through the mouth or pen of the biggest hypocrite on the planet (in relation to that particular topic) were, in fact, words inspired by God’s Holy Spirit - eternal truth from Almighty God.
The conclusion impressed upon my mind by consideration of these facts that I felt compelled to pass along is this:
HYPOCRISY DOES NOT INVALIDATE TRUTH!
So many young people have grown up in good churches with good preaching and good instruction and good leaders and good fellowship and used their parents’ hypocrisy (real or perceived) as an excuse to throw all of that out and walk away from God.
Unfortunately, some parents have provided that excuse.
BUT IT’S AN INVALID EXCUSE!
No one’s failure to live up to the truth can make the truth untrue.
And each of us is accountable to God for what we choose to do with the truth.
Solomon’s hypocrisy sure didn’t help Rehoboam. But what Solomon wrote down in Proverbs 5 (and 2 and 7 and 9 and…) was GOD’S WORD. And the word of the Lord is always right (Psalm 33:4), and the word of the Lord is always true (Psalm 119:160). And Rehoboam could have listened, and he should have listened. And I’m sure he regretted not doing so.
To the young person with imperfect parents…
To the new Christian surrounded by those lacking your zeal…
To the long-time believer disillusioned by the faults and falls of those who claim to be “men of God”…
HYPOCRISY DOES NOT INVALIDATE TRUTH!
Take it from Rehoboam. And watch out for strange women.