Quite often, I post Bible verses on my Facebook page and two of my groups (Doulos Studies and Holy Ghost Repair Service). I recently posted an often quoted Proverb. Proverbs 22:6, to be precise:
Train a child in the way he should go,
and even when he is old he will not turn away from it (Proverbs 22:6)
One of the BIGGEST mistakes many parents make is believing that this is a promise that if you use the correct parenting skills, your children will maintain their faith. However, that is not what this verse is saying. It does not say your child will never leave the Church or that if they do, they will always return. That promise simply isn’t made in this verse.
If you simply read the verse, without knowing anything else, you will erroneously believe that is what the verse says. But reread it (and again, if you need to). It doesn’t say that a rebellious child will always return to the faith, it only mentions turning away, or departing the faith. Yes, we hope they will return, but they have a free-will and can choose not to go back to the Church, so don’t put your faith in that verse as a guarantee of that happening.
Every Christian parent wants a promise regarding their family. It is perfectly natural to have an unquenchable hope that their children will remain with their faith. Or, if their child rebels and leaves their faith, that the child will return. It is just that this verse isn’t such a promise. Come to think of it; there are no such promises.
Yes, there are many promises with all kinds of benefits for obedience. But none of them include a guarantee, a promise signed on the dotted-line, that if we faithfully raise our children, they will keep the faith as adults.
Now, contingent on this verse is the key word, “train.” That doesn’t mean that we preach to them or have classroom teachings of Biblical Faith or rely on the Sunday School class to do all the teaching. No, it means exemplifying YOUR Christian faith as they are growing.
What I mean is, as your kids are growing up, are you living out your faith? Is it part of your life, or simply something you believe? During a crisis, what is your first response? Do you complain and throw things, or is your first reaction to pray and then behave as if the Lord heard your prayers? Your kids learn more by watching you, than by listening to you.
Are your kids involved in your prayer times? Well, do you have prayer times? Do your children watch your times of worship? Do they see the tears in your eyes? Do they see you raising your hands in adoration? Or, when you are at church, do you merely sing the songs, or do you truly worship? Your kids are watching your behavior and not listening to your words.
Is your faith only skin deep or is it firmly established in your heart? Your kids are learning more from your behavior than they will with your words. Does Jesus live in your heart or do your children see him as real as Santa Clause, that childhood story we tell our kids?
Okay, if your faith is lived out in front of your kids, you must also remember that our Creator has given each one of us the freedom to choose whether we will submit to Yahweh’s way of life or live by our own standards.
Now, when I say “submit,” I am using the correct word! The freedom He gave us includes our ability to see Yahweh as our absolute authority and looking to Him as the One who defines right from wrong. We can also choose to disobey His warnings, but must also be willing to accept the curse on ourselves and our families.
Yes, He wants us to remain with His way of life, but He never wanted people to come against their will. That would be the result of removing their freedom to choose. They would be little robots instead of individuals with free will. No, our Father wants children who choose to become members of His family! Who choose to obey His rules (His laws) out of absolute love for Him.
If He gave you an ironclad guarantee that if you raised your children correctly they would remain in the faith as adults, it would strip your children of their freedom to choose. Free will is given by God to every human being. And as I have told you many times faith will change things, but Grace changes people! The way many folks apply this verse contradicts one of the fundamental truths of Yahweh’s plan: free will!
There is no way for anyone to twist this verse any other way! Making such a guarantee cannot be done without Him removing the freedom to choose from every child that is raised by believing parents.Unfortunately, interpreting this verse as a spiritual promise from God has led to much unnecessary guilt.
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