I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:
TO MAKE BIBLICAL TRAINING REMAIN
PROVERBS 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
This has always been a difficult subject. It is a sensitive situation. Many parents who have had children that go “wayward”. Parents who beat themselves up with blame, guilt, and regret. Parents often blame themselves for what they feel they apparently did not do right, or did not do enough. I have discussed this many times at our church, but I do want to add a little bit of insight for those who might need this particular verse today.
First, this verse tells parents to simply provide training to a child that would point that child in the direction toward the Lord. “Training” here means to teach them, to show them, and to be the example in front of them. Show them “the way”. That is the description of the responsibility of the parent.
Second, notice that the verse does not say that a parent should train up a child in the way that he “will” go, it says in the way he “should” go. God never guaranteed if you point them in the right direction that it would be where they will go. You and I must remember that God created everyone with a free will. If a parent taught their child the principles of God‘s word, and the child does not live out those principles, that is a choice that child has made. Every individual must choose for themselves. Remember what the Bible says, “choose you this day whom you will serve”. Everyone has to make their own choice. Parents, you can control your child’s training, but you cannot always control their choices.
Third, according to the structure of this verse, it does not teach that the child will not depart from the “way”, it is teaching that the child will never depart from the “training”. The word “it” at the end of the verse is describing the word “training”, not “the way”. If you train your child correctly, he might travel a different route and go a different way, but he will never be able to get that training out of his mind. When our children are in our house, that is when they are learning the most, the fastest, and the most long term. Just like their education school, that is why we teach them young because it will stick with them forever. Parent, your child might have wondered away from God at this time, but they have never wandered away from the teaching and training that you gave them. And they never will. They might not follow it right now, but they will never forget it.
Finally, in case you were questioning my interpretation of this verse, notice the phrase “when He is old”. If the verse was teaching that a child would never go a wrong direction, it would have to say “when he is young”, “when he is middle-aged”, etc. If you think about it, if you look at the verse the way people have taught it for years, it is not very encouraging either. According to the verse if you train the child in the way he should go, it only guarantees that he will go that way “when he is old”. What about when he’s a young man, what about when he’s in his 20’s, 30s, etc? I don’t care how you look at this verse, it is not saying that if you give the right training, that a child will not go astray. It is simply saying that if you provide the right training, that training will never leave that child’s mind. I believe some parents need to give themselves a break. They need to quit blaming themselves for every choice that their child makes or has made. Instead of taking up your time with stuff like that, use the time to pray that God will continually bring to their mind the training that you provided.