“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (PV 22:6)
God is a Father. He ‘trained’ His only Begotten Son with love and wisdom. The result was that Jesus never disobeyed His Father until His last breath on earth. God the Father is our perfect pattern as parents. Jesus is our perfect pattern as a child. We are called by the special names of ‘mothers and fathers’. God gives us children so that He can share with us the beauty of being a parent; to teach us the responsibility of being a mentor. We are to care for our children with the love, gentleness, patience and strength of God. Our children are not our ‘property’. We are not free to sell them or ignore them. We have to give an account to God for our work as parents. ‘Our’ children are God’s property. They belong to Him. God expects us the parents to train the children to be holy; to love God, His Word and the Body of Christ! As parents we also need to study the Word of God to live by it!
One thing is clear: we cannot save our children’s souls. Only God is able to do that, by His grace. But we should prepare our children to walk with God. We train the children in the ‘way they should go’ not in the way they want to go. The Bible is the standard for this training. It is not enough to provide material things for the children. Spiritual training is even more important than the latest electronics in the market.
This training is not easy. The child will resist the training. We need to start as soon as possible. Even a toddler can learn to stay quiet when we pray and can learn to say ‘Amen!’ Once the child is out of the home, going to boarding house or to the university, he starts to become ‘old’. It is more and more difficult to train him after a certain age. As parents we should know that the time of training our children is limited and it passes away so quickly. The teachers in the schools and the pastors in the churches cannot replace the effort the parents need to invest in the destiny of their children.
The Hebrew word ‘to train’ means to walk on a narrow road. It also means to initiate, to dedicate and to disciple a child. To initiate it means to bring a person into a secret group or to start an action. We need to teach our children the mysteries of Christ, to baptize them into the invisible spiritual life of God. The earlier they know the Person of God the Holy Spirit, the better! We should bring the children to church services. We need to ignite that holy passion, to start the fire of the Spirit in the child’s heart so that he is able to love Jesus with an undying love. We need to teach our children to be spiritually free and truly creative. We also need to discipline the child. We need to set boundaries of love. We need to enforce these boundaries and rules. When a child is stubborn and rebellious punishment must be applied, never in anger and always with love. As parents we need to pray that all these methods will work. This is the standing rule in the home: Parents must pray! Their lives will mold the character of the child. We need to live by the Word of God as practical holiness is very important for the children to imitate.
This is good news: God promises to bless our efforts. Our little children will soon be adults. By the grace of God they shall be responsible, generous, loving and godly people. They are the best rewards for all those long hours of prayer and teaching at home. The promise is that when the child is ‘old’ he will not depart from the narrow and safe road of God. Our children and even grandchildren shall be safe, happy, faithful and spiritually mature. No parent needs to be ashamed of his work at home. God promotes the faithful parents with everlasting joy! May God bless all the mothers and the fathers; all the grandmothers and the grandfathers who love Jesus and His Word! Your labor of love shall be rewarded! I speak as a mother! I speak as a pastor! I know it! I believe it! Amen!