“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
Before we tackle today’s Bible quote, it’s important that we understand the unique genre of the book of Proverbs. In general, a proverb is a short pithy saying that states a universal truth or gives wisdom. It’s not a fixed law or an absolute, but rather a piece of advice for how to conduct ourselves or make decisions.
With that being said, the book of Proverbs contains short pithy sayings that Christians can use as guidelines to live by. According to Dr. R.C. Sproul, “the book of Proverbs is concerned to give us practical guidelines for daily experience.” It’s vital to remember that Proverbs aren’t guarantees. You can’t return them before 30 days if life doesn’t work out the way you want it to.
Proverbs 22 is filled with simple “one-liners” that can be consulted depending on the given situation. Today’s Bible quote focuses on training our children in order to set them up for godly success in the future. Parents are to instill God’s Word into their children so that when a tough decision needs to be made, they will abide by the Scriptures.
Parents are responsible for “training up a child” according to the Bible—”the way he should go.” As a result, a child will more than likely grow up and become a mature follower of Jesus ready to train their own children. However, this verse is not a promise. There are endless stories in pop culture in which celebrities or politicians have abandoned the “faith of their parents.”
The second part of Proverbs 22:6, “even when he is old he will not depart from it” doesn’t always occur. Everyone that’s created in the image of God has the choice to make their own decisions. In fact, every time a person sins, they are not “walking in the way they should go.” Those who adhere to Proverbs 22:6 are not exempt from their children making poor decisions.
Understanding that both parents and children have an obligation to “work out their faith,” the application of today’s Bible quote is quite simple. As a parent, it’s not enough to just instruct your children how to live their lives. Training involves action, not just knowledge. You must show your child how to be obedient by doing it yourself.
Christian schools have their place and can be important pillars of Christian education, but they aren’t a substitute for parental guidance. Too many parents think that teachers are responsible for instructing their children in the Christian faith. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Christian education reinforces the behavior that children should be seeing at home. Any athlete or musician trains incredibly hard to perfect their skill. It takes time, effort and love to train properly. Rather than pointing the finger at a pithy saying when it doesn’t turn out the way you want, bare down and train your child and continue to love them despite what they may or may not become.