“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Children are gifts from God. When Eve gave birth to her first son she said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man” (Genesis 4:1-2). After Cain killed Abel, Eve became pregnant with Seth and said, ““God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him” (Genesis 4:25). Again she saw her children as divine blessings given from heaven.
Scripture teaches that children develop in four areas. Luke 2:52 tell us Jesus grew in wisdom (mental capacities), stature (physical features), favor with God (spiritual relationship), and favor with mankind (social relationships). When children enter the world, they are undeveloped. A parent’s role, ordained by God, is to aid in their development and in the words of the wisest man on earth, “train up a child in the way he should go.”
For many Christian parents, they wholeheartedly agree to this divine appointment. However, the question often emerges, “How exactly do I fulfill and obey Proverbs 22:6?” In other words, how do I adequately fulfill my role as parent to my child? Following the four development areas for children in Luke 2:52, parents are called to train their children in wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with mankind.
Parents are called to train their children in wisdom.
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).
King Solomon illustrates the parent’s role in proverbs, encouraging his children to listen to his instruction and their mother’s teaching. A parent’s teaching is a beautiful crown of wisdom adorned on the head of their children. Where does this wisdom come from? Solomon tells us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
Where does this wisdom come from? Solomon tells us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One
Solomon tells us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
What is wisdom?
Wisdom is the receiving of knowledge concerning the Lord and His will and the subsequent obedience to those commands. Both the Old Testament and New Testament affirm this understanding of wisdom.
Moses said, “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people'” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6).
Jesus said the same thing about his own words, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24).”
Parents are called to teach their children to know the Lord, and obey Him. It is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom, and it is the obedience to the Lord that is the completion of wisdom.
Parents are called to train their children in stature.
The psalms tell us children are a heritage and reward from the Lord (Psalms 127:3). Parents are called to grow their children in stature, providing for their physical needs. At the time of birth, infants are unable to feed, clean, and clothe themselves. Providing for your family includes earning income to feed, clothe, and shelter your children. As your children mature, a godly parent will train their child in the proper ways to provide for one’s self. One of the qualifications for an elder or pastor in 1 Timothy 3:4 is managing one’s household. The correlation for this responsibility is if one cannot manage his own household well, how can he care for God’s church? God cares that our homes are managed well. Even the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
It is also important to remember that Jesus encouraged his disciples to reject anxiety in regards to our physical needs. There is a dual responsibility in Scripture for parents to provide for their children, but also for faith to exist that God will provide for His children. Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
Parents are called to train their children in favor with God.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
A parent’s role includes training their children in the favor of God. In order to accomplish this, Scripture is the divine gift God has given to us. As Paul says, all of Scripture is from God and useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. God desires us to conform to his righteous character and Scripture is the means to train us and our children to do this. The purpose of this character transformation is for the complete equipping of our children and ourselves to do the work of God.
It is the sacred writings that Timothy was acquainted with from childhood, and that make our children “wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15). It is the special revelation of God in written word that prepares our children to give an answer to everyone who asks them the reason for their hope (1 Peter 3:15). It is the word of God that is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths, including our offspring (Psalm 119:105).
We are commanded by God himself to teach the Scripture to our children diligently in Deuteronomy. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 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” (6:4-9).
The favor of God is only gained when his commands are obeyed. An undisciplined child brings shame to his parents (Proverbs 29:15). Likewise, undisciplined Christian parents and children will ultimately bring shame to God if the Scriptures do not hold primacy in the home.
Parents are called to train their children in favor with mankind.
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:1-2).
Parents are called to grow their children in favor with mankind. Children are to learn from their parents that submission to government and obedience to human authority is mandated by God. Believers are not exempt from civil laws unless such orders contradict the Word and will of God.
In addition, parents are to teach their children to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). A readiness for good works is required of parents to train their children.
Parents are also called to grow their children into men and women who malign no one, or speak evil of them. Public figures, celebrities, and politicians should not receive evil speech from the lips of believers, including our children. Paul urges us to pray for everyone’s salvation, even those who occupy official positions of authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
The apostle Paul also encourages parents alike to train their children as men and women who avoid verbal and physical disputes, and are gentle or reasonable in nature. Living in a world filled with unbelieving sinners, Christian parents must teach their children to behave in a manner unlike a lost world.