Training Our Children
Introduction Text :Ephesians 5:28-6:4
28So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. ..... 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
There is more sociology in that text than most sociology books. I want to begin by reading another verse that will serve as a basis for this lesson — Proverbs 22:6 states:
6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I am inclined to begin this morning by asking in the presence of this text a somewhat startling question. The question would be whether Christian people generally believe the Bible to be true. Most or all of you would answer that in the affirmative
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Yes! " For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" Certainly so! "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" — there can be no doubt about that!
"6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." — Well that is open to question, we are not quite sure about it. This text is not so often preached from, nor even so often quoted today, as in the olden days; and that is because people are not quite sure just whether it is true or not.
New methods, and ideals concerning children have made men question the absolute accuracy of this Old Testament passage. Indeed you will find sometimes that when this passage is cited, there will be a dissenting voice.
A number of years ago, I quoted this text in a lesson. and a woman came up to me and her words were "you have not stated the truth on this, for I have brought my child up in church, but he is gone astray".
Brethren whether it be in preaching or in general discussion if you insist that if a child be trained right, it must end right, people will begin to question, and relate stories of wayward children raised by God fearing parents…. And now we have touched the secret reason this text is not believed, or is questioned more today than in the past.
Well this morning I want to treat Proverbs 22:6 as an inspired statement, as a declaration of truth, as that which Solomon was inspired of the Holy Spirit of God to write because it is truth.
Believing this I shall ask you to consider in the simplest way first the condition
6Train up a child in the way he should go:
In dealing with this condition, the word that arrest the attention is the 1st word "Train" — "Train up a child". I want to say two or three of the simplest things about this question of the training of children.
I speak this morning with less surety than I have previously spoken. But I speak out of love, with conviction, and with much thought to those who have children at present in their homes, to those who are privileged to touch a child's life, in your home, at school, or in a Bible Class.
The first thing that I would say is that training involves an ideal, there can be no training save toward some goal . There must be a desired result… and training means working toward that result. There can be nothing capricious or haphazard about true training.
Beloved unless there be some goal toward which we are moving, some ideal that we desire to realize, some great purpose ahead, there can be no training. And we shall never train the children of our own home as they ought to be trained, neither shall we train up the children in our Sunday school classes, except we have some goal, some ultimate for them .
Training means going in a direction toward an ultimate. It means a great deal more, but that is the first thing.
Next I am afraid today that the ideals that we in the church have set for our children are often very low.
I have no message in this respect to men and women who are not Christians. My first and final word to such is to quote the words of Jesus to Nicodemus John 3: 7 "Ye must be born again." To parents that are out of Christ, I believe that they are unable to obey this injunction, for they are themselves dead in trespasses and sin..
But to Christian parents, I am afraid today the ideals we have for our children are often very, very low. Too often the ideal for our boys is that they shall be educated, gain a position for themselves, and to use a common phrase, "get on in the world". Too often for our girls we have they ideal that they shall be educated, and refined, and presently "get settled " in marriage or a career.
I am not undervaluing these things. It is the duty of every parent to give every child, the best education possible. Let every child be ambitious to be the best in what ever career they choose. But this is not the ideal with which we must start in the training of our children.
What then is the ideal?
That the child shall realize greatness by the standards of Christ. In the great Sermon on the Mount, in the Beatitudes, not a single blessing was pronounced upon having, not even upon doing, but upon being. In Matthew chapter five, beginning in verse 3
3Blessed are the poor in spirit:….. 4Blessed are they that mourn:….. 5Blessed are the meek:…. 6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness….7Blessed are the merciful:… 8Blessed are the pure in heart:… Blessed are the peacemakers —
All the blessings are upon being. And the true ideal toward which we are to move, and for which we are to train our children must be a realization of the character of which Jesus pronounced blessings. That the boy must be a Godly man, and that the girl must be one of the King's daughters, That first then other things afterwards, but that 1st.
Christian parents, to simply to take our children, boys or girls, and desire that they become a successful merchants or business men and women and that they make money, with never a thought of how they appear before the God of Heaven, is improper training. Our standard of training for them is much, much to low. Our text this morning says— Eph. 6:4
4 ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Bring them up in the nurture — nourish them to maturity in the admonition of the Lord. What does it mean? In Deuteronomy chapter 6 beginning in verse 4
4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
First and foremost then, we teach our children about their loving, Heavenly Father, and how to become sons and daughters of the living God, to be the best Christian that they can possibly be.
And now a second thing, The training of a child involves personal discipline.
All who are involved in the training of children this morning, Hear me: " What I want my child to be. I myself must be." Why do you think that God commanded the Israelites in the text above Deuteronomy 6:6 "6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:"? How can we possibly teach someone to be what we are not.
And lets bring that a little closer home. "What I want my child to be I am." And someone says, Brother Cope I want my child to better than I am, purer, more holy. And if you do, you desire a thing that will not be…
Remember this, you will make your child what you are, and not what you tell him to be. Jesus stated the principle in Luke 6:40
40The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
Now what is the principle? Just this, the student can not rise above His teacher, when the student is perfect, completely trained, he " shall be as his master" his teacher. How constantly Emerson's though comes back to mind when one thinks or talks of character, "I cannot hear what you are saying, because I am listening to what you are!" That is what our children are saying to us as parents this morning.
You say to your child "Be good, be pure, be honest" and you are not good, pure and honest, he will be what you are not what you say. And this is not merely the thoughts of a preacher, this is the science of life.
If you are going to train anyone to anything, you must yourself be that or attempting to be what you desire to teach you child. I can not teach a child ballot, why, because I am wholly unacquainted with ballot, you cannot teach a child athletics if you yourself are not.
Now Lets Bring That Though Home…
If you neglect prayer, and family devotion is laid aside for other things of much less sufficient…how can we expect these things to be dominate in the child's life.
How can I expect Sunday worship, Bible study, Godly living to be important to my child, when they are thrown aside in my own home? If I am to train my child, "I must first see the goal toward which I desire the child is to press…… but I must press that way too."
I cannot persuade the children in my home or those committed my trust to set their faces toward Christianity, if I am not a Christian and committed to be a good one.
Then brethren, again, training involves a recognition of certain facts regarding your child.
I will deal with this only briefly, this thought alone could take the entire time. First — In Proverbs 22:15 we read
15Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Secondly there is not a child for which Christ did not die. So I have these two things to remember in the training of every child…. First the capacity for mischief, but next in every child there is the capacity for doing good.
Every child is a lonely personality a special individual, you know the phrase that is often used of outstanding men and women… I have heard it said, no doubt you as well…. that God made a certain person, Abraham Lincoln, John Wesley, or some other great man or woman….. then He broke the mold..
t is perfectly true…but the quarrel I have with the saying is this…. when God made each of us, HE BROKE THE MOLD. I tell you that is God's regular method. No two of us are alike….
He made every child in your home or class room, and He broke the mold. No two are alike. "Listen, train your family of two, three, or four alike.. and you may hit the goal in the case of one, and miss it in all the rest." We cannot deal with children in crowds. and treat them all the same way
In our own children we see personalities, that are quite unalike. One is aggressive and outgoing for a lack of better description, the other quite and reserved…. Each child must be treated as one.
The illustration, or wording is imperfect— I trust the philosophy is clear. You cannot take a half dozen boys and girls and treat them all the same way… You must take them Child By Child.
A literal translation of the Hebrew in Proverbs 22:6 might read: "Train up a child upon the mouth of his way, and even when he is old he will not depart from it." “Upon the mouth of” is a Hebrew idiom meaning “according to” or “in accord with.” HIS OWN WAY, not our own way…..
Personality by personality, child by child.
And finally this morning, back to the text's declaration of sequence.
6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Observe first of all, that only upon the fulfillment of the condition enunciated have we any right to expect a fulfillment of the promise thus made. I have no right to expect my child will fulfill the true purpose of his own life, if I neglect the training in the early days.
say to me in the presence of this text…. If I neglect the training.. my
child must go wrong… Not necessarily. It
is true sometimes in spite of parents, children become productive in the
The promise is a positive one, and I stand by it, It does not say if we do not train our children, they must lose their way, But it does say…… 6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
We do not lose our children when they are seventeen. We lose them when they are seven. May God bless us as we train our children to be responsible in the world and in God's kingdom in their adult lives.
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ