Monday, May 23, 2016
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV).
Proverbs is loaded with wisdom. Yet, we sometimes read into a passage things that are not there. We end up missing the Lord’s lesson. For example, the above passage has been interpreted to mean that “if you train a child in a specific way, when he is old he will always return to that training. If he doesn’t, it proves his parents did not properly train him”! Is that what Solomon is actually saying?
If our early training mandates our lifestyle in old age, then why do those who are raised by incorrigible parents become Christians? Shouldn’t they ultimately return to that wicked lifestyle before death?
One thing overlooked in our reading is a person’s free will! In spite of the training, whether biblical or worldly, we still do things contrary to that instruction. We decide to not follow our training! What Solomon is saying is that the training gives the child a foundation to build upon and if he wanders off, he still has something he may return to. If that training is never received from his family, his foundation is built upon his choices, right or wrong. For example, William, son of the atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, was raised to deny God’s existence. That was his training. Yet, he made a choice to live a different lifestyle and not return to his mother’s discipline. Some raised like that see what a Christian has, what he doesn’t possess, and desires it rather than the life he grew up in. So, William abandoned his mother’s disbelief for belief!
Some read the passage and make their judgments against those parents whose children decide to not follow godly training. However, it comes out as, “They must not have trained their child as they should have or he would not be living that way.” If the training removes the child’s will, making it impossible for him to do anything other than how the parents disciplined him, why did Adam and Eve forsake God’s training and follow Satan’s? Do we blame God for Adam and Eve’s wrong choices? They had the foundation, but chose to leave it! They had paradise and traded it for thorns. They had everlasting life and sold out for a single bite.
You and I have free will. We decide to disobey God and do. Even Paul said, “I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15). Were Paul’s “instead” actions the fault of his parents not following Proverbs 22:6? No, it was Paul’s choice. Notice, Paul recognized his choices were bad because he said he hated them! Yet, he still chose to do what was hated! Even you and I are void of perfection and make wrong choices! Yet, if we were raised by godly parents, they gave us a foundation we can return to, but it is still our choice! That “return” is called “repentance.” The opposite choice is “rejection.” Some make bad choices!
From the very beginning, mankind has chosen to blame someone or something else rather than admit his mistakes and make it right (Genesis 3:12-13). In spite of our self-imposed blindness, our misplaced love, and our self-righteous justifications, God loved us and sent His Word to become our Savior. Jesus paid for our sins. Jesus made it possible for us to stand in righteousness before our God. Jesus is the solution to our sin problem. His action is called grace. Ours is called faith. So, what’s your excuse for not returning to your Creator? (Acts 2:41; 10:6, 22, 32-33, 42-43; 11:13-14; 15:7-10).