Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Title: Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Bible Book: Selected Passages

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Parenting; Children; Home; Family



We often see that question on bumper-stickers and in other places--but as I raise that question this morning, I’m not referring simply to your children’s physical whereabouts. That, of course, is profoundly important--but what I’m asking is, Do you know where they really are? Do you know where they are in the ultimate sense--in terms of their development into the persons that God created them to be?

In Old Testament times, arrows--shot with a strong bow--were among the primary weapons of the day. Arrows could be used for great evil, such as killing innocent people--or for great good, such as defending lives against an enemy attack. In Psalm 127:4 children are likened unto arrows, in a positive sense. However, a child not only has great potential for good--which apparently is the emphasis of the Psalmist--but the Scriptures make it clear that a child also has great potential for evil, depending on the type of training he receives.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Is that the statement of a general rule, to which there can be occasional exceptions? Some interpret it that way--but be that as it may, the rule is clear: If we get them started on the right path while they are children, then the moral and spiritual momentum is there for them to continue down that same road throughout life.

It is almost impossible, then, to overstate the importance of training our children properly. The future of our churches, and of all our institutions, depends on it. Indeed, the very survival of America as a strong, free, blessed nation depends on it.

Thus, no investment of time, energy, or material resources should be considered too great if that’s what it takes to train our children in the way they should go.

But however committed we may be to that priority, we’re not going to succeed at it until or unless we understand what is involved in properly training children. Let’s look this morning at three basic aspects of training children in the way they should go--and as we look at them, ask yourself the question: Where are my children? Or if you’re a grandparent, you can ask the question as it regards your grandchildren.

I. The Content of Proper Training for Children

 First, let's consider the content of training children. That training has numerous components--but I want to call our attention to the central component, the foundational component. The Hebrew word translated “train” in Proverbs 22:6 is the same Hebrew word that elsewhere in the Old Testament is translated “dedicate.” In 1 Kings 8 we have the account of Solomon and his people

dedicating the newly completed temple. In verse 63 we read, “So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.”

By “dedicating” the temple, they were officially committing that building to God for his glory. They were pledging to use that building only in ways that would be in accord with God’s purposes and principles.

A. Our Pledge in Training our Children

In like manner, to “train” a child in the proper way is to “dedicate” that child to the God who created him--which, in effect, means that we pledge to bring that child up to know about God, and to know his Word, with the prayerful hope that the child will, at some point in time, make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and live in obedience to his commands.

B. Our Example in Training our Children

Jesus came into this world not only to be our Lord and Savior--that certainly was, and is, his number one purpose--but 1 Peter 1:21 reminds us that he also came to be our example once we have been saved. Thus, the training and development of our children ought to be according to the way that Jesus was trained and developed. In reference to Jesus’ childhood and youth, Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

We see that the training and development of Jesus as a youth had four aspects: He grew in wisdom--that is, he increased intellectually. We know from the things he said later, in adulthood, that he learned about the world around him. Luke 2:52 says that he also increased “in stature.” That is, he grew physically. Jesus, as a child, apparently worked in Joseph’s carpenter shop. He learned a trade. He was no stranger to hard work. The verse to which I’ve referred says further that he increased in “favor with God”--that is, he learned spiritual truth. He was well versed in the Old Testament, which was their Bible at that point in history. That verse also says that he increased in “favor” Jesus learned the necessary social skills.

Those are the ways that Jesus grew, and thus are the ways in which our children should be taught and developed--intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. If we neglect their development in any of those areas, we have missed the mark.

In terms of that four-fold development, do you know where your children are?

II. The Participants in Proper Training for Children

Having considered the content of proper training for children--now let’s think about THE PARTICIPANTS IN PROPER TRAINING FOR CHILDREN. Who is responsible for seeing that children get headed in the right direction?

A. The Parents in Training the Children

Without question, parents have the number one responsibility. Consider the case of Abraham. God promised to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation, a nation that would be a blessing to the whole world as long as the earth should endure--and look at the reason God gave for blessing and using Abraham in such a mighty way: In Genesis 18:19 God said, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord....”

The primary responsibility of parents for child rearing is made clear In Ephesians 6:1-4:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother;

which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

In Proverbs 31we have a description of “a virtuous woman”--and one of her characteristics is explained in verse 27: “She looketh well to the ways of her household....” Verse 28 goes on to say, “Her children rise up and call her blessed....”

B. The Church in Training the Children

Those of us in the church also have a serious measure of responsibility--and especially those of us who work directly with the children.

You probably remember the gospel account of how some little children were brought to Jesus, and the disciples mistakenly tried to keep them away--but in Mark 10:14-16 we read:

“But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

The Bible speaks of the church as “the body of Christ”--which means that we, the church, are to be doing what Jesus would do if he were still here on earth in bodily form. That means that one thing we as a church are to do is to minister to little children--to help head them in the right direction morally and spiritually.

C. The Educators in Training the Children

But there is also another important group of people who have a vital part in training our children in the way they should go--and those are the teachers in the schools that our children attend. When the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” there is no restrictive clause attached--which means that everyone who has influence on a child has the responsibility and privilege of helping point that child in the right direction.

Thank the Lord for Godly teachers who have committed their lives to the career of helping to properly train our children. The stories are innumerable of teachers who have made a profound difference in children’s lives, and whose influence has continued after those children grew to adulthood.

That’s why it is a privilege for us, at this church, to honor our teachers on this special day. You are special people, and you deserve special recognition. In spite of the frustration and discouragement that you are bound to experience at times, and in spite of the fact that the pay isn’t the greatest in the world, you just keep on keeping on--day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year--and we want you to know that your commitment and your faithfulness are not unnoticed or unappreciated. From the depth of our hearts: thank you for the huge difference that you make!

In the Capitol building in Washington D.C. is a statue of Crawford W. Long, the medical doctor who discovered sulphur ether and its values as an anesthetic for medicine and surgery. Inscribed on his statue are these words: “My profession is to me a ministry for God.” I believe that whatever a person’s profession, he ought to have that sense of call--and thank the Lord for those teachers who have that sense of mission.

In terms of the influence that is being exerted in your home, at the school your child attends, and at church, do you know where your children are?

III. The Means of Properly Training Children

We’ve looked at the content of proper training for children, the participants in that training--and now let’s consider THE MEANS OF PROPERLY TRAINING CHILDREN. How can we best get children started in the right direction, and keep them going that way?

A. Proper Instruction

For one thing, proper training involves proper instruction. Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.”

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 we read:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

At church we have many opportunities to teach the children--in our organizations such as GAs and RAs, in the youth group, from the pulpit, and in other ways as well.

And what a powerful opportunity our school teachers have! You have a major part in equipping our children with the tools of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in helping them to know about the history of our world, including the history of our great country--as well as introducing them to the social and physical sciences. We owe you an inestimable debt of gratitude for all of that.

But you also have a marvelous opportunity to teach them the truth about character and morality, and about respecting God and country. Thank the Lord for teachers who address the whole person, not just their mind.

B. Proper Example

Another vital part of properly training children is setting a right example--and what a sobering, awesome responsibility that is. Listen to the words of Jesus in

Matthew 18:1-6:

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Someone has said, “He who sins in front of a child sins double.”

We have to be careful about the example we set. A mother had invited a lot of company to her home one night for dinner, and several last minute problems had come up--but she finally got the meal prepared, even though it was a close call and a hassle. When they sat down to eat, this mother asked her little six-year old to pray. The little girl said, “But, momma, I don’t know what to say.” Her mother responded, “Just say what Mother says when she prays.” And the little girl bowed her head and said, “Oh, Lord, why did I invite all these people!”

Edgar A. Guest wrote:

“I’d rather see a sermon, than just to hear one, any day;

I’d rather one would walk with me, than merely show the way.

For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,

But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.”

Parents, and teachers: Did you know that even the youngest children take notes on their observations of you? Well, they do! Oh, not written notes--but I’ll guarantee you that they are taking emotional, psychological, and spiritual notes on the way you conduct yourself. They are watching you like a hawk. Every move you make, every word you speak, every nuance of body movement, every expression of attitude--they are taking notes on the way you live, the way you work, the way you treat others, the way you respond when things go wrong. And what they observe makes a powerful, lasting impression.

C. Proper Discipline

Another essential ingredient in properly training a child is discipline.

To parents, Proverbs 29:15, 17 says: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame....Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”

James Dobson coined the term, “tough love”--referring to the fact that real love requires that we sometimes get tough for the child’s ultimate good. Sometimes parents have to get tough--and sometimes teachers have to get tough. But the thing we have to be careful about is this: discipline, in order to be effective, must fit the offense, both in type and intensity--we must not be guilty of overreacting. It must be consistent--we can’t discipline the child for an offense one time, and the next time let it slide--that frustrates and confuses him, so that he’s not sure what the limits are. We must be fair in our discipline, and not favor one child over another. That is deadly for relationships, and for the child’s personality development.

And we must always discipline in love. If you love a child, he senses it--and he is likely to accept correction so as to learn from it and profit from it. Further, we must always show respect for the child as a person of value, made in the image of God. One of the cruelest, most brutal things any parent or teacher can ever do is to humiliate a child, by ridiculing him, so as to make him feel little, or unworthy, or ignorant.


So far as whether or not all of these elements are being included in the training of your children, and the extent to which they are being included, and the spirit in which they are being included--do you know where your children are?

But let me close this message by asking where you are, regardless of your age, position, or background. The number one need of every person, until it is met, is to get right with God--to be saved. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 declares that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”--and the way a person receives that gift is by meeting the two conditions set forth in Acts 20:21: “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins and mine. Will you accept his gift today? It’s life’s most important decision. It means the difference between the abundant life and a life that falls short in the “here and now,” and in the life to come it means the difference between heaven and hell. With all my heart I encourage you to choose life, to choose heaven, by choosing Christ!


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