The Bible contains many important instructions for parents who want to impart knowledge to their children. That’s homeschooling, right? In fact, the Bible tells us where all knowledge begins…
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV).
The “fear of the LORD” is the beginning of all knowledge, whether it’s knowledge of God, math, or auto mechanics. What does it mean to fear God?
In Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, he writes,
“The beginning of wisdom is found in the temper of reverence and awe. The fear of the finite in the presence of the Infinite, of the sinful in the presence of the Holy, this [is] the starting-point of all true wisdom…
“Here it is the watchword of a true ethical education. This fear has no torment, and is compatible with child-like love. But this and not love is the ‘beginning of wisdom.’ Through successive stages and by the discipline of life, love blends with it and makes it perfect.”
So I decided to look up “the fear of the LORD” in God’s Word and see if I could find any hints as to how to actually teach this to my children.
A Disciplined Home
Proverbs 1:7 says that the “fools despise wisdom and discipline.” From this we see that discipline will be required to impart wisdom. I don’t think this means that we should run our homes like drill sargents, but we should certainly pay attention if our children despise any form of discipline! This is a dangerous warning sign. Some things in our home need to be run with discipline, or else we’ll never be able to test this important trait in our children.
Proverbs 2:1-6 tells us that “if you accept my words and store up my commands within you… then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” We can’t force our children to “accept” God’s Words, but storing up God’s commands in their hearts will certainly help. Memorization doesn’t just happen. You’ll need some sort of system to be consistent. Start young!
These same verses also tell us that “if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” Again, we can’t force our children to have a passionate hunger for understanding from God (only the Holy Spirit can produce that), yet we can instill in our children the skills needed to “search” for it in God’s Word. If you think about it, the research skills we teach our children (using a dictionary, finding things in a library, looking online) are all just preparation for searching and studying the Bible. Using a good commentary and other study skills, be sure to train your children how to look for understanding in God’s Word.
Proverbs 3:7 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” It’s not pleasant to be around a little child who is wise in his own eyes. He thinks he knows everything! He’s all that and a bag of chips! He usually has an especially arrogant attitude toward adults. Sadly, it’s difficult to teach this child, so he’ll end up having very little knowledge, wisdom, or understanding.
The opposite is a child with humility. “Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4, NIV). Do you see the result of humility coupled with the fear of God?
While we don’t want our children to pursue riches out of greedy ambition (1 Timothy 6:10), we do want to see them able to handle finances wisely, to have a good reputation, and to live a long life. Right? Aren’t these some of our homeschooling goals? Why else are we including math, science, history, and health in our curriculum? God’s Word says that humility, with a fear of the LORD, bring these results.
That’s why we need to carefully correct our children when we see them displaying wisdom “in their own eyes” rather than humility.
Things to Avoid
Finally, the Bible encourages us to avoid certain things in our curriculum:
“To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13).
When we study historical characters who displayed pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech in their conduct, we need to warn our children not to act like them. We should also avoid curriculum that promotes these characteristics in any way. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 5:16).
I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. God’s Word has SO much to say about teaching knowledge to our children.
P.S. Next Wednesday (2 pm central time) I’ll be speaking on “Using the Bible to Choose Homeschooling Methods and Curriculum” for Cindy Rushton’s Ultimate Homeschool Expo 2010. There are SO many more ideas to share on this topic! Check this link next week if you want to listen live.