“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
I believe that most professing Christians are acquainted with our sermon text. The sound of it is probably very familiar to your ears, like an old tune. It is likely that you have heard it, or read it, talked of it, or quoted it, many times. Is that not true?
But, despite it being a well-known Bible verse, how little do we regard its truth! The doctrine it contains appears scarcely known, the duty it puts before us is seldom put into practice. My friends, am I not speaking the truth?
It cannot be said that the subject is a new one. The world is old, and we have the experience of nearly six thousand years to help us. We live in days when there is a mighty zeal for education. We hear of new schools rising up everywhere. We are told of new systems, and new books for the young, of every sort and description. And still for all of this, the vast majority of children are clearly not trained in the way they should go, for when they grow up, they do not walk with God.
Now how do we account for this state of affairs? The plain truth is, the Lord’s commandment in our text is not regarded; and therefore the Lord’s promise in our text is not fulfilled.
Friends, these things may cause you to seriously search your hearts. Permit a word of exhortation from a minister, about the right training of children. Believe me, the subject is one that should hit home to every conscience, and make every one ask himself the question, “In the matter of training children, am I doing what I am supposed to do?”
It is a subject that concerns almost everyone. There is hardly a household that it does not touch. Parents, teachers, grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters—all have an interest in it. Few can be found, I think, who might not influence some parent in the management of his family, or affect the training of some child by suggestion or advice. All of us, I suspect, can do something here, either directly or indirectly, and I wish to stir up everyone to remember this.
It is also a subject, on which everyone concerned are in great danger of falling short of their duty. This is notably a point in which men can see the faults of their neighbors more clearly than their own. They will often raise their children in the very path which they have denounced to their friends as unsafe. They will see little problems in other people’s families, and overlook major ones in their own. They will have the eyesight of an eagle in detecting mistakes everywhere else, and yet be blind as bats to the fatal errors which are daily going on in their own homes. They will be wise about their brother’s house, but foolish about their own flesh and blood. Here, if anywhere, we have need to suspect our own judgment. This, too, you will do well to keep in mind.
As a minister, I cannot help remarking that there is hardly any subject about which people seem so stubborn as they are about their own children. I have sometimes been absolutely astonished at the slowness of sensible Christian parents to accept the fact, that their own children are at fault, or deserve blame. There are many persons to whom I would much rather speak about their own sins, than to tell them that their children had done anything wrong.
Come now, and let me place before you a few hints about the proper training of children. May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless them, and make them timely words to everyone of you. Do not reject them because they are blunt and simple; do not despise them because they contain nothing new. You can be sure, that if you want to train your children for heaven, then the hints that that follow ought not to be lightly set aside.
By: J.C. Ryle