“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Maybe like me, you have heard this verse used in a variety of ways. One example is as a promise to a hopeful young parent that their child will reach adulthood with socially acceptable ways. And another usage offers hope to desperate parents of a wayward teen that their child will return to them and to the path they were taught.
One word that stands out to me is hidden in the verse and that word is the implied You. I am to train the child. I am responsible to set the course of my child’s direction. In order to train my child rightly, I need to know the direction myself. How can I hope to train and help my child, if I don’t know the course or if I’m not prepared? I have a grave responsibility whether my child chooses to follow the path or not that I’ve set before him/her.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14,15
A child will have many teachers throughout life. Some will be good and others won’t. As believers, we have a spiritual responsibility to the children in our lives whether they are biological or not. The examples we set by our words and actions influence and impact their spiritual lives. In scripture, Paul encourages his spiritual son, Timothy, in the faith to continue in what he had learned. We, too, can encourage the children within our sphere of influence to grow up and hold fast in their faith. We can teach and instruct them in the ways of God, encourage them to read, understand, and memorize scripture, to help and love others, and to pray for themselves, their family, and their friends.
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Proverbs 1:8,9
We, the faithful, are called to pass on a legacy of faith to the next generation. Share your stories of faith. Tell of God’s goodness and lovingkindness towards you. Give God credit in the world around you. Live life as His servant.
“Love the LORD you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7