Following up on “do not provoke your children
,” (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21), I want to look at Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The Hebrew word is used three other times in the Bible and is used in the meaning of “dedicating” (Deuteronomy 20:5; 1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 7:5).
So when we read “train,” the Proverb essentially speaks also of “dedicating” our children. As parents, we are called to teach our children also to dedicate their lives to God. In his article, Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go
, Jason DeRouche, Professor at Bethlehem College and Seminary, writes:
This suggests that the initial imperative calls for parents to actively devote or commit their youth to a certain, perhaps even religious, course of action — continually pleading in the presence of God and others, “May what happens in the life of this young one ever magnify the greatness, worth, sufficiency, and saving power of our God.”
And “in the way he should go,” refers to in the way of God. Teaching our children the importance of God in our and their lives. This Proverb, then, calls for the active involvement of the parent in the life of the child. Consider this: How active are you in the life of your child at school? Do you make sure that they get their homework done and work diligently with them to ensure successful exam results? Do you engage in extra curricular activities at school so that your child gets a better grade?
And then, ask yourself these questions, How active am I in ensuring that my child is learning about the things of God? Do I spend time teaching them about him? Is prayer a daily part of our lives? Where does God fit on my (and their) daily planner?
DeRouche further writes:
Certainly we as parents are always training our kids, even through our passivity. For example, by failing to lead them to repentance before the sovereign God, we teach them that they are fine to continue living as self-made kings and queens, rather than servants. By failing to instruct them in God’s commandments, we teach them that God’s word is not the highest authority in our lives. By failing to set boundaries, we instruct them that we really do not care whether they do good or ill.
As we look back on our lives, what helped us most in our lives? The extra sleepless hour trying to get some school work done, or the knowledge of a loving and merciful God who is the One who brings us the success in our lives and carries us through our darkest hours?
A caution, the Proverb isn’t a guarantee that “he will not depart from it,” because as your children grow into adulthood, they will decide which paths they will follow. But the Proverb is a promise that if you teach your children to put God and the things of God first, in their hour of need, they will know whom to call upon to rescue and deliver them. That is your parental responsibility.
How do we train a child in the way he or she should go? The answer is of course simple, but not always easy. We do it. We show what prioritizing God means and looks like. We can say all the words we want to, but our actions are what speak louder than any talking at our children can do.
This year, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to make Back to School a call to be Back to God—Back to Church. As a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle, it is never too late to train up a child in the way he should go.