Train up a Child…but Remember, it’s God who Saves Them

I tried to train my children up in the way they should go, but God showed me again and again, that it was not my training that was going to save them.

I thought that if I just did all the right things as a parent – if I had daily devotions, if I prayed every night with them, if I lovingly disciplined them, if I took them to church, if I got a “swear box” that removed bad words from movies we watched, if I made sure they had no “bad company” to corrupt them, if I made comments on all of life as we lived it, in other words, if I did all the right things THEN my children would AUTOMATICALLY get saved.

 

Moms and dads, do you feel like your children’s salvation is up to you?

I would never have said that, but when my kids were little, I kind of did. I thought that if I fulfilled Proverbs 22:6, they would automatically get saved:

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I thought that if I just did all the right things as a parent – if I had daily devotions, if I prayed every night with them, if I lovingly disciplined them, if I took them to church, if I got a “swear box” that removed bad words from movies we watched, if I made sure they had no “bad company” to corrupt them, if I made comments on all of life as we lived it…

…in other words, if I did all the right things…

…THEN my children would AUTOMATICALLY get saved.

I mean, isn’t that what Proverbs 22 promises? Train up a child and he will not depart from it. That means salvation, right?

My Own Failures To Train Up My Children

Now if you had asked me, I would have said, “Yes, of course, it is God who saves, not me.”

But in some sense, I felt like it was up to me. If I did all the right things, my kids would get saved.

The problem was that I couldn’t perfectly train up my children in the ways of the Lord.

I made plenty of mistakes. As much as I tried to protect my kids from negative influences, as much as I tried to teach them and set a good example, I made LOTS of mistakes. I failed in LOTS of ways.

I tried to train them up in the way they should go, but God showed me again and again, that it was not my training that was going to save them.

Because only he can save.

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to train our children in godliness and teach them about the Lord. We should.

We should share the gospel with them. We should try to impart a love for God’s word and trust in him. We should try to set the best example we possibly can. We should talk about the Lord when we rise and when we lie down so they can see how he touches every aspect our lives.

But we will sin. We will fail. We will neglect key areas of training. It’s these consistent failures that make it absolutely essential that God do the saving.

Training My Kids While Stuck In Traffic

Like the time I was supposed to speak in a church a few hours away, had the whole family in the car, was cutting it close timewise, and got stuck in some heavy traffic.

Taking advantage of the situation to train my children to trust God, I said (in my best Barney Fife voice if you know who that is), “Now kids, it’s times like this when it’s good to know about the sovereignty of God.”

Then, a few minutes later, when we hadn’t moved an inch in the traffic, I blurted out, “Oh, this is NOT GOOD!”

I’ll never forget the look on my wife Kristi’s face when she turned to me and said in a droll tone, “Whatever happened to the sovereignty of God?”

So much for my example of trusting God.

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