We have just examined the When of child training and found that the early childhood years are the optimal time for instruction. More importantly, this period of time is the directive given in Scripture for best promoting the child’s development. As we now turn to the What of child training, we want to ascertain the subject of the training.
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
The primary responsibility of child training lies with the man as head of the household. Because of this God-ordained position, the father has the power to affect his children in profound ways.
When a child views his father in a position of authority, his natural inclination is to emulate his father’s patterning. Many a young boy has said that he want to be like his daddy when he grows up. For the reason of this influence, a father has the burden to be a good example to his children.
Children are naturally curious as their developing minds try to understand the world around them. A father must then give instruction that will not leave the child with a negative mind frame, but will promote goodness within the child.
A child needs to be brought up on the Word of God, his young heart being nourished thereby. He needs to be taught to fear the Lord. He needs to be taught to love the Lord.
“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” (Proverbs 3:1-2)
A child needs to be taught that the Word of God will give him the instruction conducive to a happy and prosperous life. God has commanded obedience and has promised to bless obedience.
A child needs to be trained to obey the Word of God; not so much as expecting a reward, but out of a heart-felt desire to show his love for the Lord, knowing that his life will be blessed by the Lord.
Having been so trained by their parents, children are given the responsibility that comes with the knowledge. The educational duty of the parent imparts the occupational duty of the child, as he is equipped to live a life in the way he should go – a way of truth, peace, and successful living.
In conducting our study on The Training of a Child, we’ve seen that the responsibility of the parents is to train up the child in the way he should go, because he does not know this way and neither will his naturally wicked heart compel him to seek this way. We’ve also seen that the proper place for this training is the home, and the proper time is the earliest opportunity. We then considered the subject of this training to be the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Our text for this study sets forth the ideal that such training of a child will insure that when he is old, he will not depart therefrom.
Again, this is an ideal, and even the most attentive parenting will sometimes produce children that in fact do depart from their childhood training. This does not indicate a failure of the parents or the Word of God, but the natural depravity of the heart that has not been turned to the Lord.
If the parents are confident that they have whole-heartedly sought to follow God’s Word in the upbringing of their children, they can rest assured that the Lord bears the responsibility for performing His Word.
“And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.” (1 Samuel 8:1)
“And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.” (1 Samuel 8:3)
Samuel was a Godly man and the greatest judge of Israel’s history. Yet, for all his leadership abilities and his attention to the Word of God, Samuel’s sons grew up to be ungodly men – whoremongers, thieves, and gluttons.
Accordingly, God judged Samuel’s sons for their iniquity. Part of the training of a child consists in warning the child against the judgment of God. The child then bears full responsibility for their disobedience.
This study does not claim to be an exhaustive study of the matter of child training. What it does claim is to give the parent a hope that their actions in raising their children according to God’s Word will be rewarded according to God’s perfect plan and in God’s perfect timing. Ultimately, the parents must know and understand that they are stewards of God’s children and that their responsibility is in the labor and not in the increase.
For the child that does depart from the training they’ve received, the parent is to continue to pray for their children, asking God to turn them from their impenitent heart and reconcile them to Himself. The Foundation of Jesus Christ having been laid, the Seed of the Gospel planted, the parent is left to pray and water the Seed, waiting on God to give the increase and draw to Himself the children He has given.