Day 25: Truth
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
“Train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6a) literally means, “Train up a child upon the mouth of his way.” For “upon the mouth” or “from the lips” was a Hebrew idiom meaning, “according to,” or, “in accord with,” like a servant waiting eagerly at the beck and call of his master. The word “way” occurs nearly seventy times in Proverbs to describe the habitual choices and direction one takes in life. Picture trudging back-and-forth through a field of grass until you have carved a well-worn path. So also, you must habitually walk in the way of the Lord until it becomes second nature to your life.
Dads, tread the path of wisdom and righteousness instead of folly and sin. Walk in God’s way, then train your children to follow your example. Instruction happens not only when your children are in trouble, but also at the breakfast table, on the way to school, and during bedtime prayers. You must continually shepherd their hearts in the way of God’s wisdom, for “he who walks with the wise grows wise” (13:20a). More than a lecture, this requires the vitality of a life well-lived. Your righteous character will bless your children as they learn with you to love the Word of God: “The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him! (20:7). So how’s your prayer life? How’s your devotional life and your walk with the Lord? Choose to cultivate your relationship with God and the benefits will overflow to your children.
Instruct by example and also with creativity like Jesus who said, “Look at the birds of the air,” and, “Consider the lilies of the field” (see Matt. 6:25-34). In Proverbs, the ant instructs the jobless sluggard (6:6-11) and the loaf of bread instructs the young man hooked on pornography (v. 26). The gold ring in the pig’s snout instructs the teen who wears her theology on designer jeans and a bare midriff (11:22). So dads, be creative when teaching God’s Word and influence your children through the creativity of others. My boys often share with excitement about their adventures in Sunday School whether eating a meal in Abraham’s tent, fighting a battle with the Assyrians, or walking on water with Jesus. Our children also love radio drama like Adventures in Odyssey, Bible stories on video, and play-acting passages from Scripture. Creativity brings biblical truth to life so that your children will remember.
Third, instruct your children in community with the help of your church family. A good church will help your children pray, memorize Bible verses, sing praise songs, learn about Jesus, and engage in discipleship. Certainly, God places the ultimate responsibility on parents (Exod. 13:8; Deut. 4:9-10; 6:4-25), but the church can offer much assistance. Dads, find a church with gospel-centered ministries for children and youth. God’s family should offer counseling and mentorship to cultivate health in your family. Take advantage of the resources which support your role as parents. Don’t let academics, athletics, social engagements, or laziness keep you from the loving fellowship of the church.
Finally, instruct children not only in the whole counsel of Scripture, but specifically in the gospel truth. Teach them that God is the loving Ruler and Creator of the world (Prov. 3:19). Direct your children to observe the beauty and the power of God’s creation (Ps. 19:1-6). Teach them that God is holy by explaining rules like speed limits and bedtime curfews. Remind them that “the eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). Explain that man is sinful and point out the consequences of sin and death all around us. For example, sin is revealed in the impatience of a traffic jam or the trauma of a playground fistfight. Death is in the newspaper, at grandpa’s funeral, and a goldfish swirling down the toilet bowl. It is the story of Adam and Eve and every story after. Then relate to your children the consequences of their personal sin, for a fool’s disobedience brings “sorrow to his mother” (10:1b; 15:20b; 17:21). “A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him” (17:25). A fool also brings humiliation (28:7b) and “a foolish son is ruin to his father” (19:13a). The consequence of sin is death (Rom. 6:23a).
Most importantly, reveal the truth to your children that Christ is Savior. Tell them the story of the cross in a thousand different ways until it seeps into the way they understand the world and understand themselves. Point out evidences of grace in their life and in the lives of others who are drawing them to Jesus. Help them see how their miniature story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation finds its place in God’s bigger story. Then teach them to repent of sin and believe in Christ.
Dads, you will have no greater joy than leading your children to the Lord and bringing them up in discipleship (Eph. 6:4). This is successful parenting: To dedicate your children to the Lord, then teaching, training, and guiding them on the path that they must walk. Even if he becomes a famous doctor or a wealthy businessman—even if she wins the Nobel Prize or the Pulitzer, all that is icing on the cake. So may we claim with John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for strength to instruct my children how to walk in the truth. Remind me to instill in them a love for the gospel and a love for Christ, their Savior. Help me point out evidences of your grace which direct their hearts to you. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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