Finding Truth in a Confusing World: The Value of the Past.
Read Proverbs 1:8-19
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
We often look at history as a study only for those who are history buffs or those who want answers for Bible trivia. However, Robert Heinlein aptly stated, “A generation which ignores history has no past—and no future.” Unfortunately, we live today in an age where we condemn history, seek to rewrite history, and even erase history. We see the people of the past be fools but not as our teachers. Instead of seeing the value of the wisdom of our forefathers, in our arrogance, we dismiss their wisdom as outdated and old fashion as we have become enamored with the latest and the new. Rather than evaluate the present from the lessons of the past, we condemn the past in our worship of the new morality. We do this at our own peril. To fail to learn from the past results in blindly embracing what may destroy our future.
Tragically, this is not only true of our society at large but also true of the church. In the Bible, we find the importance of valuing the wisdom of the aged:
Job 12:12, “Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding.”
Leviticus 19:32, “You shall rise up before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 32:7, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you.”
Proverbs 23:22, “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
Titus 2:2-3, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior…so that they may encourage the young women.
This is because corporate wisdom always exceeds individual wisdom, no matter how competent that individual may be. The wise recognize value the wisdom of others, especially those who have been through the fire themselves.
Listening to the aged not only means listening to the wisdom of those who still walk among us, but it is also essential to listen to those who walked before us. This involves listening to the previous generations and the church of the past. When we depart from the historical church's morality, doctrine, and instruction, we often do so at our own peril. When we dismiss the teachers' warning of the past, we will fall prey to the same error they warned us about.
Proverbs 11:14 states, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” The wise person learns from others, including the wisdom handed down through generations. Yet, we dismiss the past and the morality of the historical church as misguided and corrupted by cultural bigotry. The historical church, with its views regarding traditional marriage, the existence of heaven and Hell, the necessity to accept Christ as the only means of salvation, the concepts of God’s holiness, and righteous judgment upon sin, etc. are rejected in our search to embrace our modern views of religion and morality. Thinking we are wise, we become fools (Romans 1:22). To find truth in a confusing world, we must not reject the past but look to the past. Since God does not change, and his truth does not change, any departure from the church's historic faith will weaken the church and undermine our faith. While the church is not infallible like scripture, we can still learn from it. Test your faith and beliefs with the past; if they do not line up, then perhaps you need to reexamine what you believe.