Summary: Proverbs 22:6 and the proper interpretation of the promise therein. Christian parenting.
“AS THE TWIG IS BENT …”
a. Children will either turn-out to be followers of Christ or will reject Him (bear in mind that those who simply pay lip service to Jesus yet refuse to surrender their lives to Him have, in fact, rejected Him – Matt. 7:21)
b. That being the case, what is it that we, as parents, can do to see that our own children dedicate their lives to Christ?
c. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We’ll look at this passage in more depth in a minute, but first lets evaluate what we see in the world and in the church to aid us in rightly interpreting this verse. (by the way, this is, as I see it, the best way to interpret scripture … read the bible and in order to see if we’re interpreting it accurately, look around us to see if our interpretation is being acted-out)
i. Believing children of believing parents
ii. Believing children of unbelieving parents (Jonathon)
iii. Unbelieving children of believing parents (Adonijah – I Kings; Absolom II Sam.; Sons of Samuel)
iv. Unbelieving children of unbelieving parents
d. Who is to blame??? What was done wrong and what was done right? Is it just chance or is there something we can do to give our kids a better chance?
II. The fact (as we look around us) appears to be that at some point, every person must decide for themselves whom they will serve (Joshua 24:15). If our service to God was enough to save our children (or anyone else for that matter), then the message of the cross is proved faulty … each man must take-up his cross and follow Jesus or face eternity in Hell.
III. So, what are some specifics?
i. Discipline (Proverbs 13:24). This is a controversial approach today but we should not be swayed by popular psychology. We need to exercise this tool properly and effectively. Inconsistent discipline can be worse than none at all. Discipline in anger can also be counterproductive. Consistent, purposeful, loving discipline with the goal of it always in mind is best.
ii. Model: I could find no specific scripture for this principle, HOWEVER, it is woven throughout the Bible in the parables, teachings and relationships described. If we model our authority as a dictator, our children will see God in that way. If we model our authority as a friend who has a responsibility to our children, they will likewise view God that way. What do we know about preachers’ kids???
iii. Teach them the Bible: We need to have our kids in the Bible so that they will be able to apply Godly principles to every circumstance in their lives. Even if they choose to ignore it at some point, it will always be there and may enable them to come back to God.
iv. Teach them to pray: This tool – resource – will let our children know that they are NOT in control and that a higher power is in love with them
v. Preserve innocence: Keep the world from hitting our kids at too early an age. When kids are immature, what the world presents may look very attractive. Later, we need to let our kids know what the world will offer and teach them how to deal with it before they are confronted. We can present scenarios, role-plays or whatever to educate them on God’s terms and not the world’s.
i. Decline to interfere: This was David’s parenting style and it proved horribly ineffective. It is our responsibility to “interfere.” Allowing our kids their freedom too early is a prescription for disaster.
ii. Refuse to emulate grace: This will perpetuate the view of rigidity … make sure that grace is offered for contrition and not willy-nilly.
iii. Micro-manage their lives: This will exasporate them. Also avoid antagonism and too much sarcasm.
IV. Proverbs 22:6
1. “TRAIN UP A CHILD.” This exhortation refers to the obligation of the parent and assumes reciprocation from the child. When the training is done and the reciprocation is forthcoming, good results follow. Reciprocation is assumed in this verse but we all know that not all children reciprocate, responding to the training. Sometimes, two children in the same family with equal training turn out differently, one faithful and the other not faithful. The difference is in the children, not in the training.
2. “IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO.” The training or teaching of a child is to be in harmony with “the nature of the child … the manner of instruction ought to regulate itself according to the stage of life, and its peculiarities; the method ought to be arranged according to the degree of development which the mental and bodily life of the youth has arrived at.” Parents have the obligation, therefore, to study the age, character, nature, and disposition of their children and train them accordingly.