September 3 I Thursday
1 Corinthians 14:1-20
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” —Proverbs 22:6, NKJV
The book of Proverbs teaches us wisdom, which includes giving us guidance on parenting. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.” Folly is bound up in the heart of a child because we are all born with a foolish––sinful––nature. The first environment God has provided for correcting foolishness is the home. Proverbs 29:15 tell us, “…a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.” This is why one of the key parental tasks is to replace folly with wisdom in our children.
A fool wants everything instantaneously; so in the home, the fool needs to learn patience, where they cannot have everything immediately. Similarly, children need to understand that “no” means “no,” and not “no until you’ve begged another six times and then it is a ‘yes.’” Children need to grasp that “no” means “no,” “wait” means “wait” and “later” means “later.” If children want something special and it is not their birthday or Christmas, it is good to encourage them to save up, prepare for it and wait. Patience is key as Proverbs 20:21 tells us, “An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.”
In the family, children should grow up slowly. Sometimes, we rob our children of their childhood when we give them everything by the time they are ten and there is nothing left for them to wait for and no rites of passage left for them to experience. If we give our kids everything they want, we cannot be shocked when they get into their teenage years and are sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend, because they are used to having what they want.
I have a friend who is a lawyer in England, and he was representing a girl who got into trouble with the law. He met with her family, where the mother was in tears as she talked about her daughter going off the rails. The father commented, “We have no idea why she would treat us this way. We have always given her everything she wanted.” My lawyer friend told the parents, “That is exactly why she was doing what she was doing, because she is used to having everything she wanted.”
It is good character building and training in wisdom when we do things we do not like and we do not get what we want when we want it. God gave us families, not to be babysitters until the kids grow up, but to be agents of godly character development in children. May we understand the importance of godly parenting and the consequences that come from neglecting this God-given privilege.
Prayer: Lord God, whether or not I have children, help me to be consistent with my character, where my “no” means “no” and “yes” means “yes.” Replace the folly in my heart with wisdom as I seek to do the same for those You have entrusted in my care. Thank You, Lord.