“Train up a child in a way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
How are you? This week’s verse might be particularly important to parents and grandparents. However, if we believe that it takes a village to raise a child, than we can find meaning in the verse for all of us whether or not we have children. We may be teachers, childcare workers, aunts, uncles, supervisors, neighbors, and church members who have influence over children and people we see. After all, Proverbs 22:6 doesn’t say, “train up your child”, but “train up a child”.
I have to say, that I thought Proverbs 22:6 would be a relatively easy verse to ponder and about which to write. However, when I was preparing and researching the verse, I found many differing opinions on the actual meaning of the verse.
Some people take this verse as an absolute promise to parents that you train your child to have godly values and behave in godly ways, then that child will grow up to have godly values and behave in godly ways no matter what. Some people take the verse to mean that parents should start early in helping a child find his or her “direction in life”. This direction could mean spiritual direction, emotional direction, personal direction, vocational direction, financial direction, or any number of directions. Some feel that Proverbs 22:6 is talking about helping children find their learning styles, talents, skills, and interests early, so that they will be able to learn and live well according to their own God-given personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.
I have always thought of Proverbs 22:6 as not a promise, but encouragement to give a child a godly foundation and to be a godly role model. I thought of it as imparting godly wisdom through sharing God’s Word and discussing godly ways, so that the likelihood that the child will grow up with godly ways would be greatly increased.
I don’t think of it as a guarantee, because we can control how we act and feel, but we can’t control how others act and feel. As people in the world, especially as parents, we have high influence over the children in the world. We can encourage children, role model for children, teach children, and train children. Out of respect, love, intimidation, or force, we can usually get a child to do as we wish while they are young. Yet, do our efforts really guarantee that a child will grow up to be as we wish? God can certainly change hearts, if He is so inclined. However, God gives us free will. He doesn’t change our hearts unless we want it.
It is this free will and God’s willingness to change hearts is what probably makes this verse so important. Giving a child a strong, godly foundation, helps that child have the tools he or she will need to make life decisions and no matter how many times he or she may stray, he or she will still have the tools necessary to find his or her way back to God. Whether or not he or she chooses to use these tools is up to him or her. This is why we must do our part to train up children in a godly manner. Even if it doesn’t stick, there is still hope that they will come back. People can remember strong foundations, even if they wander from them.
I used to think that this Proverbs 22:6 just pertained to Bible study, manners, and godly living in general. However, I think there is something to be said in also considering more specific actions such as training children how to recognize and use their God given talents and skills. It could also mean training a child in a way that is unique to them, like through words, through doing and role modeling, or through visual means. It could also mean helping a child choosing a profession. People sometimes tend to do what they know already. For example, if a child grows up on a family farm, they may be likely to be family farmers when they grow up, especially if their parents teach them young to love the animals, appreciate the crops, and be responsible for chores early on.
Isn’t that what “training up” means? Doesn’t it mean to teach children right from wrong, godly from worldly, and to make the godly decision? God’s Word has to do with all aspects of life, not just where, when, and how we worship. Knowing God’s Word is a big part of being able to make godly decisions. And, we will have to make decisions in all aspects of our lives, our spiritual lives, our physical lives, our emotional lives, our academic lives, our personal lives, our business lives, our financial lives, and social lives. I now believe that this verse can envelope all these aspects of life.
Often, God uses verses at different times in our lives to encourage us in different ways. It isn’t unusual for a verse to mean one thing for us in one part of our life and envelope so much more in other parts of our life. Often things take on new meaning and new importance as we learn, grow, and mature.
You have put all your precious children on earth for us to encourage and train in your ways. Thank you for the honor and responsibility you have given us to parent and train the children you put in our path. Help us to do it according to your Word and your way, I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective questions for Proverbs 22:6 (KJV):
*What does Proverbs 22:6 mean to me?
*What does train up a child mean?
*Do I think Proverbs 22:6 is a promise?
*If person strays from God, does that mean a parent didn’t do a good job
training a child up?
*If I don’t have any children is this verse still applicable to me?
*What can I do to better heed the words in this verse?
Now, it is your turn.
I have covered quite a bit in today's post. There is so much on which to ponder and meditate. If you feel led to leave a comment, please do so. I look forward to reading what you have to say.
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This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.