Promises and Proverbs

Take the few minutes to listen to this audio from John Piper. He’s addressing something that I think a lot of people are confused about.

The issue is: what constitutes a “promise” in the Bible, and what constitutes a “proverb”?

The issue in question is that of Proverbs 22:6, which says: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Many people consider this a “PROMISE” from God – that if you raise you kids up right, they will be good people who do right things. In particular, many Christians come to this verse in the hope that if they raise up their children to walk with God, then their children are guaranteed to grow up to share their faith – and if that doesn’t happen, then it is “user error”, i.e. the parents didn’t do a good enough job raising their kids up in the right way.

The problem is, there are plenty of kids who come from great, loving, Christian families, who don’t follow their parents’ faith nor their moral/ethical values.  What are we to make of this?

John Piper answers the question well – concerning the nature of proverbs versus the nature of promises, and how we should understand this verse.

How to Avoid Failure

Kobe Bryant holds an NBA record. Do you know which one? Most missed shots. Of any player. Ever.

When Kobe set this record in the 2013 season with his 15,296th missed shot, guess whose record he broke… Michael Jordan. Until 2013, Michael Jordan had been the NBA player with the most missed shots ever.

Yet, Kobe and Michael are also 2 of only 5 players to ever score over 30,000 points in their NBA careers.

The other players? Kareem Abdul Jabar, Karl Malone and Wilt Chamberlain. Consequently, Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul Jabar also hold the number 4 and 5 spots for most shots ever missed.

Long before he went on to reach the 15,000 missed shots mark, Michael Jordan said this in an interview:


Proverbs 14:4 says “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

Nobody likes messes. Messes are messy. If you want to completely avoid messes, then here’s an easy way: never have an ox.  If you have an ox, you will always have messes to clean up.  BUT – if you have an ox, then you will also have increase and profit and great things. BUT you will also inevitably have messes.

There is a sure-fire way to never fail: don’t try anything. Play it safe. Don’t take risks, don’t take chances. Don’t get invested in anything. Don’t wade out into the deep water – just splash around in the shallows.

If you do that – you will never fail. You will never have to deal with messes. There will never be anything to clean up. BUT, you will never reap the benefits which only come to those who dare to take a shot.