|Vol. 16 No. 1 January 2014||
Rearing Faithful Children
Wise King Solomon penned the words, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The Hebrew word chanak translated “train” means to “initiate or discipline” and is translated in the KJV as “dedicate, train up” (Strong’s). An English dictionary definition for “initiate” means, “verb (used with object) 1. to begin, set going, or originate: 2. to introduce into the knowledge of some art or subject” (https://dictionary.reference.com/). The English meaning of the word train is to “develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of (a child or other person) by discipline and instruction: to make proficient by instruction and practice, as in some art, profession, or work” (https://dictionary.reference.com/). The word dedicate means, “to devote wholly and earnestly” (https://dictionary.reference.com/).
Adam Clarke made the following observation about this Bible verse:
“Initiate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path.” When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.
Chanok: which we translate train up or initiate, signifies also dedicate; and is often used for the consecrating anything, house, or person, to the service of God. Dedicate, therefore, in the first instance, your child to God; and nurse, teach, and discipline him as God’s child, whom he has intrusted to your care. These things observed, and illustrated by your own conduct, the child (you have God’s word for it) will never depart from the path of life. (Adam Clarke’s Commentary)
To train up a child in the way of the Lord is to educate the child so that the youth will by nature perform according to the instruction he has received and that he will wholly devote his life to serving God to the best of his ability!
Wise King Solomon told of the results of properly training our children and the great lawgiver Moses instructed parents on how to effectively train their children.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
Twice in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses instructed the Israelites to imbed the Word of God in their hearts and to use every waking moment to instruct their children in the way of the Lord. This principle is just as relevant today as it was to the Israelite nation.
In order for parents to rear faithful children, God must be first and foremost in the thoughts and actions of the parents! Notice the words of Moses: “…words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6) and “…lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul” (Deuteronomy 11:18). The words to which Moses refers are the commandments and laws of God as recorded in the Old Testament. The words of God that we follow today are found in the New Testament. Before Moses told the parents to teach God’s Word to the children, the adults were told to learn and live these commands themselves. We cannot teach our children what we do not know and do not practice. The saying, “Do as I say, not as I do” has little favorable impact on our children. Children follow what they see far more than what they hear.
Moses instructed the Israelites to keep God’s written Word before their eyes. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand… as frontlets between your eyes… on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:8-9; 11:18-21). When God’s Word is ever before us – easily seen – it is easier to learn and follow His commands. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). The Bereans searched the Scriptures daily to determine if the words of Paul were true (Acts 17:11).We must put in the time and effort to learn God’s Word and put it into practice in our lives.
When parents know and practice God’s Word, they can begin to teach their children. Just as adults need to keep God’s Word ever before them, children need consistent, constant instruction in God’s plan for them. Moses said to teach our children when they “sit in your house…walk by the way…lie down…rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; 11:18-21). Fathers are told, “Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV). We should seize any and every opportunity to train, to indoctrinate and to ground our children in the laws of God, in the knowledge and understanding of God’s love and His desire for them to serve Him faithfully all the days of their lives.
We must know our children – to understand their personality traits. Every child is different – each child responds differently to instruction and correction, in the way he or she learns, and in interests. Wise parents will take all of these characteristics under consideration when teaching their children God’s truths.
Our children need to know book, chapter and verse for why we worship God and how we worship Him. They need biblical evidence for doctrine, Christian living and Christian service. They need more than the example that is set before them; they need proof found within the pages of the Bible. We need to teach our children to search the Scriptures just as the Bereans did in Acts 11:17. Only when our children have the biblical knowledge of why we do what we do will they have the faith that will sustain them through life.
We need to teach our children to lean on God, rather than on things of this world. Jesus taught, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). “These things” refer to the necessities of life – food, clothing and shelter. God must be first in our lives, and we must teach our children to put God first in their lives. God and our service to Him must come before school, sports, work, recreation, vacation or any other activity that pulls us away from God. When our children see us putting work before worship and service to God, they see nothing wrong with missing worship and service opportunities for school related activities and sports.
We need to provide opportunities for our children to spend time with faithful young people as they work for the Lord as well as opportunities to play together. Peer pressure abounds. It is hard to remain faithful to God when all our time is spent with those who do not love and serve our Lord. We need to help our children find friends who will help them go to heaven rather than pull them away from God.
We need to teach God’s Word and help our children understand the meaning for them in today’s society. We spend many hours in Bible study teaching Bible stories – the actions of the men and women in the Bible. Our children can quote Bible verses and retell many biblical accounts, yet they do not understand what God wants from them. This happens when we concentrate on Bible facts and fail to teach modern day application! For our children to be faithful to God, we must teach them to apply God’s message to themselves.
Rearing faithful children takes work! It requires parents to take time to study God’s Word with their children. It necessitates saying “No” to our children when they want to participate in activities that will pull them away from worshipping God and gathering with other Christians as they serve Him. It may compel us to diminish our children’s association with some individuals who have a bad influence on them, as we encourage our children to spend time with those who will help them go to heaven. The time and effort spent will be well worth it, when we all join together one day in heaven. Remember, the seed of the Word of God is planted in the hearts of our children, and we will not see the harvest until they reach adulthood – when they prove their faith is strong without constant assistance from us.