“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
“Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” (Proverbs 23:22-25)
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) In the midst of Paul’s exhortation to place Christian love above all other gifts, he admonishes us to act like the new creatures we are, mature in Christ, no longer naïve and childish. Children do not understand wisdom, but are very positively affected by it; they also do not understand abuse and neglect, and are likewise very negatively impacted. But when Christ calls us them faith, through regeneration and adoption into God’s family, they have instruction in wisdom and can begin to understand all things, regardless of the parenting they have received. If our earthly parents were unable or unwilling to teach us the wisdom of Christ, we have a heavenly Father who generously trains us in the way we should go.
As adults we must remember that there is nothing completely objective about our reactions, decisions, attitudes, or viewpoints about children and parenting. For each of us, our own childhood upbringing has a dynamic influence over our ideas of what makes good parenting, for good or bad—even if we have had training, family counseling, Bible studies, and read extensively with the latest childrearing resources. It is a known fact that when children experience child abuse or neglect, they adopt abusive and neglectful parenting styles with their own children. Therefore, it is vital for fathers and mothers to follow the imperative in Proverbs 22:6, bringing children up with the teaching of Scripture, under its authority, and with the influence of the gospel strongly taught. John Gill describes this training as, “praying with them and for them, by bringing them under the means of grace, the ministry of the word, by instructing them in the principles of religion, teaching them their duty to God and man, and setting them good examples of a holy life and conversation; and this is to be done according to their capacity, and as they are able to understand and receive the instructions given them: as soon as he is able to speak or go, even from his infancy; or as children are fed by little bits, or a little at a time, as their mouths can receive it.” *
If you have raised your children and are now looking back with regret, you are not alone. Many parents wish they had done a better job nurturing their children spiritually. The good news of the gospel, though, vanquishes our remorse and disappointment. No matter what you did as a parent, no matter what you experienced as a child, and no matter what your parents experienced, that led them to their parenting style, God’s will and choices are sovereign. The love and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ overcomes and transforms even the most horrific childhood into a training ground for better parenting and conviction for biblical training.
Today is the day when we, our children, and our grandchildren need to “Buy truth, and…not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” The free gift of the gospel is our Father’s best parenting for us and our heirs. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!” (Isaiah 55:1a)
* Gill, John, Commentary on Proverbs 22:6, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-22.html