"Train Up a Child"

“Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6

The definition of “train” in the Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains is “disciple, i.e., broadly instruct in accordance with proper rules of conduct and behavior which would include both principles and teaching holy ritual.”

Disciple your children. Teach your children. Training is primarily teaching. But it cannot be one class, or one semester, or only in class. Training is life teaching. Discipleship implies and walking through life together and giving instructions along the way. Discipleship would naturally include example and demonstration as well. This is also teaching.

The other day, Dana and I discussed this question: “Why are we educating our children?” Education cannot be an end in itself because knowledge is an incomplete virtue. Knowledge is valuable and important, but the most significant issue is what one does with his knowledge. Many have wrought great evil and destruction with their knowledge. Children are to be trained in the way they should “go.” The main concern is not merely what they know, but what they do. Thus, we must broaden the view of Christian education to wisdom. Wisdom adds righteousness and fear of God to knowledge. God’s purposes for us are to love him and love others. All education and knowledge, then, is gained in order to fulfill God’s purposes.

Training a child has this broader goal in mind for it does not simply convey knowledge, it teaches a way of life – “in the way he should go.” It is a way, a path that goes on and on. It is not just a particular skill or behavior. As the definition above states, it includes principle and holy ritual. Principles are eternal truths that transcend particular circumstances. Principles inform wise and right decisions no matter what the particular problem or choice one faces. “The way” is one that will last one’s entire life. Thus, when the disciples are old, they will still be able to follow it.

This way is not a personal, traditional, or cultural way. It is the way one “should” go. This assumes a right way, a transcendently true way. Therefore, the child is taught God’s way – the way of righteousness, love, and wisdom.