Bible Study Tools / Parenting

Train Up a Child

by Robert Berendt

When one stands back and looks at the history of the children of Israel, one cannot help but wonder how each generation was unable to faithfully pass the values God had given them down to the succeeding generation. This history is one of coming to God and going from God and then repeating the process through much trouble for hundreds of years until finally God saw so much evil He was forced to "divorce" His wife, Israel.

God had given strong directions to Israel for the continuation of His Way among each succeeding generation—but somehow "Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey" (Isaiah 59:14,15). Truth is fallen due to neglect— no one picks it up because it is not considered precious and valuable.

We hold the truth from God with the greatest respect. It ought to be treasured and constantly renewed in our minds and the minds of our children.

In Deuteronomy 4: 9, God spoke strongly to Israel commanding them to "Take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren."

Furthermore in Deuteronomy 11:19 God strongly states: "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."

In Proverbs 22:6 we read: "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."

The truth God has given us is so rare and so precious. If we were to leave the greatest gift possible for our children, surely it would be the gift of this truth. This gives our children a way of living and a reason for living that is without parallel in the world. It is the only way. Anything less is unthinkable and yet, we see so many of our young children growing up ignorant of many of the vital truths that separate God’s people from all others.

I was greatly impressed at the feast this year when a little five year old girl stood up and recited all the books of the Bible for the audience. It reminded me of the many miles we travelled with our children and how each one of them learned the 10 commandments in long form, the books of the Bible and many other small points of truth. Tremendous truths such as why we did not observe Easter and Christmas in our home and what displeased God about the lifestyle of many people. Truths about how to please God and where to go to know what He wants of us. To know when Jesus died and rose again and why he died. What is sin and on and on.

Parents love their children. We laugh and cry, rejoice and suffer hurt with our children even up into old age. The love never stops. The result of our teaching, or lack of it, has much to do with the outcome of the lives of our children here and now, let alone for eternity. I want my children to be part of the first resurrection. I want my grandchildren to be there. I have the strongest hope and prayer to add to my own effort that this precious truth will not be thrown carelessly into the street.

Perhaps it is time for parents to ask themselves whether in their home and in their lives there is time for prayer and study with the children they love so dearly. We can and ought to provide God with an avenue for blessing our children and our homes rather than forcing Him to give the opportunity to those who really care.

One of the most wonderful witnesses of those who deem the Truth valuable and vital is the compliment Paul pays to the generations of Timothy who he addresses in II Tim. 1:5: "When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also."

Some may think somehow this is passed on genetically (I speak in jest). God says the children of His chosen people are holy ( 1 Corinthians 7:14). That only means He regards them with special interest and is willing to work with them. In no way does this blessed position guarantee that truth somehow is passed on without the teaching and the living example of parents. The establishment of good habits of study, prayer and living are beneficial in this life as well as for the life to come. Lois and Eunice were diligent in teaching Timothy and that resulted in a man of God who was able to study and work with Paul.

God will not do it for us! He leaves the responsibility up to us. Let us never neglect this admonition from God. Our children are our most precious assets. Teaching them the greatest of all truths is the way we can show our constant and caring love for them. Our greatest legacy will be our faith and understanding of the plan and will of God.

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