Train Him Up in the Way He Should Go

Train Him Up in the Way He Should Go

On any number of occasions, David almost lost his life before he gained his crown. No one tried harder to eliminate him than mad King Saul. When David was desperate for the help of a friend, he did not turn to a Philistine or a Moabite. He looked instead to a trusted peer from his own “church.”

That friend was Jonathan, Saul’s own son, who “loved (David) as he loved his own soul” (1 Samuel 20:17). Jonathan put his own life on the line – and survived his father’s attempt on it – to save his friend. He succeeded, and when they parted he said:

“Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, `May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever’” (20:42).

Friends like that are hard to find.

In their day and in ours, however, another kind of friend is easier to attract than head lice – and potentially much more damaging to a kid’s head. This sort has probably come under the wrong influences. He has certainly chosen the wrong path for the wrong reasons.

And he wants to lead one you love down that path after him.

As our culture deteriorates around us, as our nation turns its back on the biblical values that made it strong, the parent’s job seems to become more difficult and nerve-wracking by the day. More unchurched kids means more kids operating without a moral compass – and on the prowl for new partners in crime.

“Train up a child in the way he should go,” the Bible tells us, “and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

David’s son Solomon, the wisest king, wrote those words 3,000 years ago. They are as true today as they were then.

A child will get her training somewhere – in the school bathroom or on a street corner, in the home or at church.

A child will receive his training from someone – drug dealer, gang leader, parent, teacher or pastor. As a decaying culture stacks the deck against parent and child, both need all the help they can get in equipping themselves with spiritual armor.

God, being God, can hit a home run with a crooked stick any time He chooses. The impossible for us is child’s play for Him, and He has performed signs and wonders in countless lives throughout history.

In the normal course of events, however, God uses His people as His agents in performing His work – including the raising of godly children. He expands His kingdom by using loving, Bible-believing, God-fearing parents to bring along the next generation of Christians. Put another way, He assigns us the role of training the precious ones He entrusts to us in a way that reflects His glory.

But He does not leave the parent on an island. He gives her the church as a caring community called in Scripture the “body of Christ.” This body reaches out to offer instruction, encouragement, nurture, wisdom, a ready ear, a soft shoulder, many kinds of help . . . and, most of all, love.

Our Lord’s church devotes herself to drawing more into His kingdom and supporting their growth. An ancient theologian wrote, “He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church as his mother.”

And why would anyone, facing the obstacles to effective parenting that confront us today, attempt to raise her kids without the spiritual and practical aid the church offers? Get them to church – and set their feet on the path of peace.Ω

The Reverend Edward W. Fowler