Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
I wonder how many Christian parents have been disappointed by this scripture verse? Children don’t always turn out the way we hope, despite our best intentions and planning.
Am I saying Proverbs 22:6 is wrong? No. Not at all. But I am saying that it must be taken in context with the entirety of God’s word.
Heaven is a matter of individual choice. You can point your children in the right direction, give them the best possible Christian education, and live a godly life as a model for them to follow, but a personal relationship with Christ is up to them.
You and I can’t save anyone from the penalty for sin. Only God can do that. Heaven is imparted by God by grace through individual faith.
Do good and godly parents always have good children? Do bad and nonbelieving parents always have bad children? The answer on both counts is “no.” I’m sure you know examples of both scenarios.
So, what’s up with our focus text? And if we can’t count on the truthfulness of this verse, how can we rely upon others upon which we have placed our hope?
The answer is found in the title of the book. Proverbs. A proverb is a wise saying that expresses a common truth or useful thought; general truths stated in general terms; principles of right living that describe observations of life’s realities. Proverbs are not intended as promises or guarantees but as models for maximizing the potential for success in the many facets of life.
In fact, the first five verses of the book reveal its purpose:
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young — 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance —
And since this wisdom literature is contained in God’s word, then it carries the Lord’s endorsement. Sometimes, however, these teachings can and should be taken as specific promises from God, WHEN taken in context with other Biblical instruction. For example: Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Trusting in the Lord is the basis for our relationship with God. We know God’s ways are not our ways and His help in our lives is not limited to our understanding. And we know submission to the Lord keeps us on the right track. In other words, that line in Jesus Loves Me in which we sing, “for the Bible tells me so,” is the greatest way for understanding and getting the true meaning from the book of Proverbs. Biblical context…
With all that said, let’s return to our focus text. Should we give our children the best start in life possible? Absolutely. We should do everything we can to point them to godly living and a right relationship with Jesus. In Ephesians 6:4, we’re admonished to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
As parents, we do the best we can, knowing our precious children were born as sinners and in need of the Savior. But it has to be more than just dropping them off at church, sending them to Bible School, or reading Bible stories. The principles by which we live speak louder than our words. Let your children see Christ in you.
And then pray, pray, and pray some more. Bathe your children in prayer. If they’re saved at an early age, keep on praying they remain true to the faith. Should they wander, pray for the Lord to bring them back. If they reject salvation, never give up. Keep on praying for the Holy Spirit to open their hearts and minds to the Good News of Jesus Christ.
God hears our prayers. There’s no telling where I would be today had it not been for the fervent and daily prayers of my grandmother. She’s been with the Lord since 1981, but I still benefit from the power of her prayers.
Be that prayer warrior for your children and your grandchildren. It’s the best thing you can do for them.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Where have All the Father’s Gone
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.