Mentors in Scripture

Every time I read the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, I cannot help but notice how often Solomon addresses his wisdom to “my son.” I count 19 times in the first 8 chapters where Solomon refers to the hearer or reader of his words as “son” or “sons.”

What a fantastic resource the book of proverbs can be to a young man who is growing up, or has grown up, without a father in his life. What a rich source of fatherly guidance.

For that matter, the book of proverbs is a wonderful resource for all of us, young or old, male or female, whether we had two parents in the home or not. After all, the Bible tells us, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men… and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.” (1 Kings 4:29-31)

Even if you had the most wise and loving parents in the universe, there is still more wisdom for you to find in the book of Proverbs. Even if your friends are the best examples of godly living that anyone could imagine, they are still imperfect humans who may sometimes lack the perfect knowledge revealed in scripture.

Let Solomon be a mentor to you through the book of Proverbs.

Of course, the reason why Solomon was so wise was because he got his wisdom from God. The words recorded in the book of Proverbs are God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). When we open the Bible to learn, we are literally being taught by God. Jesus Himself said so in John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”

We all need someone wiser than us to help us to learn and grow in life. Think of a classic mentor-trainee relationship such as Daniel and Mr. Miyagi in “Karate Kid.” That is what God offers to be for us. In John 13:13 Jesus said “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.” In Luke 6:40 He said, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

Will you allow God to be your teacher? Will you submit yourself to His instructions, even when you do not understand them, knowing that He can help you to become more like Him?

And will you spend time with the mentors that God has appointed throughout history to teach us various lessons, both through listening to their wisdom and through observing their mistakes?

There is much to learn from the words and actions of men and women like Adam, Eve, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, Zipporah, Miriam, Joshua, Rahab, Deborah, Gideon, Jael, Sampson, Naomi, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, Abigail, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Esther, Mordecai, Ezra, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the sister or Martha, Anna the Prophetess, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Paul, Silas, Pheobe, Priscilla and Aquilla, Lydia, Dorcas, Barnabas, Timothy, and Titus. And that is just to name a few!

The Bible is full of father figures, mother figures, big brother and sister figures, and friends to help you learn and grow. Hebrews 12:1 describes them as a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us and cheering us on in our walk of faith.

Avail yourself to their guidance and support through God’s word.

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Let the Bible Speak

Psalm 119:105 states, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” In this simple metaphor the psalmist communicates a very important idea: God’s word is an outside source of knowledge and guidance, over and above our own feelings and opinions.

Isaiah 55:10-11 says “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

If indeed God has sent His word out to accomplish His purposes, we ought to let it speak for itself rather than twisting it around to say what we want it to. We must resist the temptation to simply assume that Bible affirms what we want it to affirm. We must be willing to listen with open hearts.

Acts 17:11 says of the Bereans, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

The test that the Bereans used to determine the truthfulness of an idea was not how it made them feel, or how popular it was in the current political or religious climate, or what their families had always believed, but rather what the Scriptures said.

Consider one final passage, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, written from the experienced apostle Paul to the young preacher Timothy.

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Notice a few key points from these verses:

  1. Paul considers this instruction so important that he charges Timothy in the presence of God and Jesus, who will judge us all one day.
  2. Paul tells Timothy to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. In other words, be deeply concerned with the truth of scripture, even if that truth is not popular.
  3. There is a real temptation for us to only listen to people who tell us what we want to hear. This is a destructive tendency.

Whether you consider yourself “doctrinally conservative” or “doctrinally liberal,” or don’t necessarily really know or care how you would be categorized, the scriptural plea to all of us is this: let the Bible speak.