A Home that is Filled with Treasure3 By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
4 through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
Proverbs tells us that if we build a home with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, the rooms will be filled with rare and beautiful treasures. The writer is not talking about tangible possessions. The concern is not with our homes being filled with antiques, Tiffany lamps or paintings over the fireplace. Wisdom and understanding are not prerequisites to the acquisition of material possessions. All that takes is money.
A foolish person may hit the lottery or inherit a fortune. Having a lot of things does not mark someone off as being wise. In fact, Jesus had nothing. He said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) Jesus had nothing, yet he was the wisest person who ever lived. It doesn’t take wisdom to fill our homes with a lot of things. But it does take wisdom to fill our homes with joy, satisfaction and love. It takes wisdom to have healthy relationships between all the members of the family; to have family members who want to be together, great memories, children with depth of character or to grow old with one’s spouse and still be in love.
Where do we find wisdom to fill our homes with treasure? If you listen to the “experts” we hear contradictory advice. In the 1970’s, certain “experts” advocated for “open marriages”, suggesting that sexual exploration outside of marriage would encourage romance within marriage. In the 1980’s, other “experts” discovered that so-called open marriages destroyed trust and destroyed marriages. Again, back in the 1970’s, “experts” said that divorce really didn’t hurt one’s children, at least not in any lasting way. Children were said to be able to recover from a divorce just like children recover from the common cold. But other “experts” in the 1990’s discovered that a parents’ divorce created devastating consequences for children, even 25 years later.
Who should we listen to? The wisest approach to life is to listen to the Architect, the Creator of life. This is only common sense! If you were trying to build a house with a load of wood delivered by a lumber yard, you could take a number of different approaches. You could just start nailing boards together and guess at what the house ought to look like. Or you could listen to people who were passing by on the street shouting advice to you, especially if they claimed to be “experts” in home building. But it would make the most sense to consult the Architect and follow his plan for building your home.
God is the Architect! His wisdom in building a home doesn’t go out of fashion. And his wisdom is not contradicted by later studies.
God’s Word offers us wise principles for filling our homes with treasures. Let me suggest three principles from God’s Word that will build a great home in any culture and at any time in history.
Principle One: Love God more than you love your spouse.
The first commandment in the Old Testament is this: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) In other words, don’t put anything on earth, including our own spouses, ahead of God. Jesus reiterates this Old Testament commandment by telling us that the most important commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
If we put God first, we will love our spouses well. We will obey God by forgiving our spouses when they sin against us. We will tell the truth and not lie to our spouses. We’ll serve our spouses and not try to dominate them. We will put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own. We will pray for our spouses. And we will want, above anything else, for our spouses to put God first as well.
Principle Two: The most important thing you can do for your children is to love your spouse.
Back in the Garden of Eden, we read these words: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The parent/child relationship is only temporary in terms of a child living in our home or being under our authority. Only the marriage relationship is permanent! We are glued together for life. A healthy marriage is the foundation for raising healthy children. There is nothing more undermining to raising children well than a bad marriage between spouses. If we want to have secure children, we must first secure our own marriages.
Principle Three: After loving God and loving your spouse, the key to loving your children is to know them
The most famous verse on childraising in the Bible is Proverbs 22:6 which says:
6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
The classic interpretation of this verse suggests that we teach our children from a young age about God. Teach them the 10 Commandments. Bring them to church. Make sure they see you praying. The promise then is that even if they rebel in their teenage years, when they get older they will remember the lessons that they learned as children and will return to God.
There’s certainly truth in this classic perspective. We followers of Jesus ought to raise our children with a strong spiritual foundation. And for the most part, when parents take their jobs seriously regarding building a spiritual foundation for their children I have watched most children return to the faith after a period of rebellion. Of course, this is not an absolute promise. Even Jesus did not bat 1000! He lost one of his disciples, Judas. Our children are still able to make their own choices for and against God.
But another way to look at this verse in Proverbs to understand the writer to be saying: “Raise up a child according to his way”—not the way but his way. That is literally what it says in the original Hebrew. Or to put it differently, raise up a child according to her wiring, according to her temperament, according to her gift mix. In other words, raise up a child according to the way that God has created them to be. The phrase “his way” literally means “his bent”. This phrase was also used to describe the bend of a bow in the Old Testament.
In other words, Proverbs is telling us that there is no standardized way to raise a child. There are standards—standards of respect, standards of spirituality, the standards of the 10 Commandments. But there is no standardized, cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to raising a child.
Other people can give us advice regarding how to raise our children. Wise counselors can assist us. But no other person knows “the way” of our children as well as a parent does. No one else knows our child’s sensitivities or our child’s temperament the way we do as parents. Every parent ought to have Psalm 139 graven on their hearts regarding our own children “you know me… I am fearfully and wonderfully made”… (Psalm 139:1, 14). Every parent ought to be able to look at their child and say: “You’re absolutely unique in the way that God has formed you. I want to bless your temperament. You are optimistic. You’re melancholic. You’re a gifted musician. You’re a gifted artist. You love science. You’re kind. You are a sharer. You are sensitive. You are a leader.” And, of course, we ought to know our child’s negative tendencies as well. “You have a tendency to lie when you are confronted. You deny responsibility. You go along with the crowd. You struggle with working hard.”
Do you want a home that is filled with treasure? Listen to the wisdom of God found in God’s Word, especially the book of Proverbs!