Wisdom-The Replacement for Legalism

In the last post I had discussed the need for wisdom in building a home. I had asserted that wisdom is not learned, but given. This is because wisdom has as its source God. He is the originator of wisdom. He is the embodiment of wisdom. Moreover, wisdom is dispensed by Him as He alone desires. Therefore, when Proverbs 24:3 states matter-of-factly, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches”, it is saying, “A house is only truly a house when it is established and built with wisdom, God’s wisdom.” Further, this wisdom is a treasure. Thus, being a treasure, it is rare. However, like treasure, it yields itself when sought after with effort, diligence, and determination. Outside of this, a home is not established. But in all our efforts, the reminder remains: wisdom is given, never discovered.

Having said all of that, there is a fundamental issue that I believe needs to be addressed at this early juncture. The topic of legalism in the home is heated and ongoing. Legalism is the cry of those who deny the need for God’s righteousness in the home. The reason, I have found, that some have this perspective is because they cannot rise above their own level of righteousness. Thus, the home becomes a hodge-podge of rules and abstract standards that really have no bearing in God. Thus, children are confused (and so is the other spouse). This especially hits home when this haphazard approach to managing a home causes pain or destruction. For the time-being, a level of righteousness kicks in, but it is not God’s.

Let’s examine a scenario. Little Johnny has thrown a rock through the front window. He was told that he should not pick up rocks and throw them. However, Johnny did not listen and now there is a broken window letting all the cold air in, and hot air out. What does legalism do? Legalism cries, “I told you not to do that! Why did you do that! Why can’t you listen when I tell you something?!” But, wisdom says, “What did daddy tell you? Why did you pick up that rock? Why did you want to do something that I said not to do?” And going through the mind of daddy is that his little Johnny is only exhibiting his true nature-a sinner. Johnny, at heart, is rebellious, foolish, disobedient, and loves unrighteousness. Johnny can’t help but do what he shouldn’t. He is unable to obey fully, think wisely, exhibit distinctions between good and evil. Little Johnny has almost zero discernment. But, that does not let him off the hook. A transgression has been committed. A penalty must be enacted. At the premise level, the legalist is self-righteous and expects others around him to be so also. A wise man, however, has jettisoned his own righteousness for the righteousness of God out of the fear of God. In short, a legalist does not submit to the righteousness of God for fear of letting go of his own righteousness (Romans 10:3). And, since our own righteousness is so low, it allows us to “get away” with things that God does not allow. Yet, wisdom seeks to maintain the high view of God and His righteous character no matter the cost. Thus, he will speak to little Johnny attempting to bring him to the realization of what sin is, and what is the consequence of sin. In doing this, Johnny will learn a little bit about God from the broken window incident.

So, in order to establish a home, it needs to be driven by wisdom, not legalism. A home is a place, most of all, where the glory of God should be on display in the people who live there. Therefore, daddy’s response to that broken window, mommy’s response to losing sleep to a sick child, the children’s response to instructions from their parents that are not at all what they want to do, are all opportunities to put God on display, and not ourselves. It is time to elevate the righteousness of God, and not our own. It is a time to learn wisdom, cry out for it, and be trained to discern between good and evil thus maturing in the Lord (Hebrews 5:13-14).

This is really the direction teaching about parenting and the home should go. Instead, however, you often hear ‘Christianized’ elementary principles of the world along with success stories of the common experiences of life. Anyone can identify with those things. However, what needs to be explained and taught is a fear of God, the need for righteousness, and the wisdom of God that builds a home.