Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
Last year, Karen and I came upon a great deal where we found Lowe’s Home Improvement had marked several of their trees down quite considerably and we just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to plant several more on our little piece of heaven here on earth. I got them home, began scoping out a place which would become their new home, dug the holes and carefully planted all of them along with plenty of good root starter to stimulate their roots system. The trees looked spectacular and I was very pleased with how straight and upright each of them turned out. We’ve had some dry spells since then and I’ve had to stretch out the hose more than once to make sure they were getting plenty of water down to their roots.
About two months ago, Karen and I noticed that one of the trees, a beautiful Bradford Pear, had slowly began to veer off slightly in how it was beginning to grow. Because of this discovery, last week I went to my shop and got a 4 ft. T-Post and a couple of rubber straps and drove the post in the ground next to the tree and wrapped the straps around the tree and put some tension on the tree pulling it back in an upright 90 degree position. By doing this, my hopes are that the tree will continue to take root and grow up straight and tall in the years to come. I am training that tree in a way that I would like for it to grow.
Similarly, from the time both our children were born, we did our best to train and develop them in the way they should go in regards to rearing them in the fear, knowledge and admonition of the Lord and His ways. Also, early on, we began to notice each one’s talents and abilities that we encouraged them in and also to be the best they could be in all they set their hands to do. For instance, our son, Grant loved to play sports..football, track, baseball, and so on. We encouraged him to polish that talent, continue to practice and be the best he could be at it. By doing so, we were training him in the direction that was his natural ability and talents. If we had tried to get him to do something else besides what we recognized as his natural abilities and talents, we basically would have been much like that tree and be bending him in a wrong direction and one not suitable for him. Same thing with our daughter, Scarlett. She loved twirling, band, and being a supporter at her brother’s many sporting events. She wasn’t into sports like he was. We allowed our children to decide what they wanted to do and encouraged them in that way that they wanted to go (with our approval of course).
Many look at Proverbs 22:6 as a promise from God that right parenting will produce children who keep the faith. Does the Creator make this guarantee? I would like to propose that He cannot. There are countless promises of God that include numerous benefits for obeying His way of life. But they do not include a guarantee to parents that children reared faithfully will keep the faith as adults. If this were true, then the first children of God, Adam and Eve, would never have gone astray in the Garden of Eden following God’s instructions to them and become evicted from there.
Doesn’t God want His children to stay with His way of life? Yes, of course He does! But He does not want people to be in His family against their will. That would be the consequence of taking away the freedom to choose. Such people would be like robots instead of individuals with free will. God wants children who choose to become members of His family, who choose to obey His household rules (His laws) out of love for Him.
Even though Proverbs 22:6 doesn’t guarantee a child’s future choices of remaining in the faith, it is still important for parents to give their children spiritual education (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, 20-25). There are biblical guidelines for parents of young children to follow, by which they can raise their children in a godly manner. What is the advantage of doing so? First, it makes a more pleasant home to have children trained in love, respect, obedience, kindness, etc., in contrast to homes in which children do whatever they please at all times!
In closing, I pray each of you continue to train, educate, and equip your children and grandchildren in the ways of the Lord. Praying over them and doing what Deuteronomy says to do regarding God’s Word and His promises. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deuteronomy 11:19.