(A Message for Teens)

By Tim Sullivan


As a parent, there are many things I wish for my children. I wish my children could all grow up to live happily ever after without the hint of worry or stress to disrupt their tranquillity. I wish I could shield them from all evil influences in the world. However, I know that such wishes do not come true — at least not in this world. As Paul said, if that is what you want, “then must ye needs go out of the world” (1 Cor. 5:10).

After I “return to reality” I realize that since I want my children to grow up to live fruitful and peaceful lives, there is only one thing I can and should do for them. As their father, I must teach them how to make good choices.

Proverbs 4:1-4:
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.

Life is determined by the choices we make. This is why the Proverbs have so much to teach us about the need for wisdom. It is wisdom that leads us to make the right choice.

Proverbs 4:5-6:
Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

It is wisdom that will exalt and promote you.

Proverbs 4:7-9:
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

It is wisdom that will add years to your life.

Proverbs 4:10-13:
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

Wisdom will lead you in the right path. But the right path is not the only choice you can make. There is also the path of the wicked. And understand, God does not prevent you from going down this path. He advises you to avoid it. But the choice is yours.

Proverbs 4:14-17:
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.

One way is the path of light. You see where it leads. The other path is in darkness. You won’t even know what hit you.

Proverbs 4:18-19:
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Have you ever noticed how old some young people look? Going down the wrong road will steal away your vitality. But the words of wisdom are life and health to all that find them.

Proverbs 4:20-22:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

Look around, in school or at the mall. Just as God has placed good examples around you to learn from, He has also shown you bad examples as well. He wants you to see these things. They prove what he is saying is true. As I am fond of telling my teenage daughter, you can either learn from your own mistakes or from the mistakes of others. It hurts a lot less to learn from the mistakes of others! Wisdom guards your heart.

Proverbs 4:23-24:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

There is an old saying, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Fools like to jump right into the middle of trouble, like some entertainers like to throw themselves into the outstretched arms of the crowd. The Bible says that fools make a mock at sin (Prov. 14:9); they consider it an abomination to depart from evil (Prov. 13:19). Therefore, the Word of God says, fools die for want of wisdom (Prov. 10:21).

It is hard to forget the things you’ve done wrong, even when you know God has forgiven you and you’ve accepted His forgiveness. The next time you are thinking about going down the wrong path, ask yourself if you really want to live with that memory. God wants us to learn to think about the consequence of our actions. We are to ponder the path of our feet.

Proverbs 4:25-27:
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Making the right choice doesn’t get easier with age. If anything, it gets more difficult because after you reach a certain age, you can do pretty much what you want. A 12 year old can turn down an invitation to trouble by saying, “My parents won’t let me.” But that will sound pretty ridiculous coming from the mouth of a 25 year old!

It may not seem like it now, but the time will soon come when you will be required to make all your own decisions. Your parents can tell you their hopes and dreams for you, but in the end, you will have to choose the paths you take. You will receive the reward or consequence of your decisions. Now is the time to learn to “ponder the path of thy feet” and learn to make decisions that will bring honor to you, your parents and God.



From the February 2001 issue of The Vine & Branches