Hear, my son, and be wise,
and direct your heart in the way.
Be not among drunkards
or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
and slumber will clothe them with rags.
Read the first two lines (verse 19) carefully.
This is a father – speaking to his son – pleading with him to direct his heart in wisdom. I can’t think of a father who doesn’t want this for his boy. A son who goes from knowing what it means to ‘be wise’ to one who ‘is being wise.’
How can a father actively play a part in ‘directing the heart’ of his son?
Read lines 3 and 4 (verse 20) carefully.
What are drunkards and gluttons ultimately guilty of? Zero self control. They don’t know how to stop. Constant self indulgence.
Why would a father not want his son to be around a glutton or a drunkard? We get the drunkard part . . . but a glutton?
A father who raises a wise son, a son who has directed his heart, understands self control. A father who raises a son who knows how to practice self control has raised a son who knows how to direct (and guard) his heart.
Think about it: If you can’t say no to the 4th trip to the buffet on Sunday lunch, do you think you are going to say no to the ‘risky’ image that pops up on the computer screen when no one is around? If you can’t walk away from eating the 8th Reese’s Cup in a 30 minute span, do you think you will be able to control your temper when your spouse makes you angry?
Do you see what this father is doing? He is letting his son know that if he can learn self control with eating and drinking, he will be in a much better position of controlling himself (directing his heart) when ‘deeper’ temptations arise. If a child learns self control with the ‘small’ things, it will serve him much better with the ‘big’ things later in life. A wise father doesn’t want his son to be around gluttons and drunkards, but instead men who practice diligent self control. Notice it’s not because these things are sinful. They certainly are, but that’s not why the father is saying ‘be not among’ these guys. It’s because he wants to train his son how to direct his heart. He doesn’t want his son to end up in poverty, sleeping all the time.
How can we apply this? We need to look both inward and outward.
Inward: How am I doing at controlling myself with food and drink?
A child will watch us first.
Outward: Am I exposing my children to men and women who obviously practice self-control in these areas?
Good company enforces good morals.
Are your actions with food and drink reinforcing with your children the truth they are getting from the Word?