“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
How we think is of utmost importance. Biblically speaking, how we think is not an internal, enclosed operation. It is not guided – or, rather, should not be guided – by our own whimsy, desires, or leanings. This is easy to ponder and pursue as adults with the hindsight of our youth, but how do we guide our students or our children to think biblically? The task at hand is daunting, but we are not at it alone.
Proverbs 1:7 is certainly the golden standard of biblical thinking; “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” In this verse, there is a clear dividing line between the only two kinds of people who can exist: those who fear the LORD and those who are fools. Sounds pretty harsh at first glance. But is it?
Wisdom and knowledge seem to be interconnected throughout the book of Proverbs. It becomes increasingly clear in the book that wisdom is simultaneously a gift of God and the result of a pursuit of the things of God. In both sectors, Scripture is clearly essential because God has revealed Himself to us through its words.
In 6th Grade, we do a lot of talking about the centrality of Scripture. As students get ready to “head up the hill” to the Upper School, they are one step closer to being independent thinkers. In every subject, my goal is to pose the question: “But what do the Scriptures say?” These students, though they do not yet have the hindsight of their youth, possess access to the single, supreme source of Truth. They must love it and long for it, and they must constantly be inundated by its words. In their time at Covenant, my prayer for them is that they learn to stop and think, unprompted, “What do the Scriptures say?” When they become focused on pursuing a biblical worldview, then their hearts can grow in wisdom.
Wisdom does not inherently come with gray hair or even with experience. Wisdom of the truest form comes with the fear of the LORD, and the fear of the LORD is a gift from Him. In order for our students to think according to a biblical, Christ-centered worldview, they must first come to fear the Holy One, the One who created them. This God does not sleep nor is He surprised by events, for He sovereignly rules over all. Students, no matter how young, must be instilled with this weighty truth and healthy fear, that their actions and thoughts come up under His rule.
Conversely, in this Proverbs verse, we can clearly tell who falls into the “fool” category by who despises wisdom and instruction. While it’s not easy to attain wisdom, it’s easy to be a fool. It’s good for all of us to be reminded of this. I often jokingly remind my students, “Don’t act a fool!” But the words are still a sober warning. If we let our actions be guided by anything other than biblical wisdom, then our thinking and, subsequently, our actions lack biblical wisdom.
Biblical thinking and biblical acting must go hand in hand, and they can only be accomplished in the life of the believer by the King Himself. Scripture does not change, so this biblical, Christ-centered worldview by which we long for our students to think does not change either. When they think biblically, their actions will be guided by biblical standards. I am convinced that there are only three ways we can guide our students into thinking biblically.
Pray. We must pray for our children. Only the Lord can take a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. No matter how much we desire this for them, only He can accomplish it according to His good will. We must beg Him for that. We must trust Him in that. And in His grace, He may see fit to soften their hearts and draw them to Himself, to pursue the fear of Him.
Teach Scripture. Any chance I get, whether in the classroom, on the recess field, or walking to lunch, my primary goal must be to constantly teach my students Scripture. If we believe that it is the supreme source of wisdom, we must prove it by teaching it. They must know what the Scriptures say. By teaching them to our children, the Lord will also be gracious to increase within us a love and longing for His Word.
Live Scripture. Little eyes are watching. Are our own actions guided by a biblical, Christ-centered worldview? Are we able to stop, think, and guide students through that same process of examining everything by the standard of Scripture?
This building-up of wisdom is a lifelong process that we will not perfect in this lifetime. But, in His infinite grace, the Lord will be faithful to grow His children in wisdom. And with the Lord’s wisdom, as guided by the Scriptures themselves, we can, and our students can, learn to think in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
by Audrey Christensen, 6th Grade Teacher