In Mal 4:6, Elijah returns before the second coming of Jesus to turn the heart of the fathers to the children. A heart for children is characterized by:
Instructing — Prov 4:1— to instruct is to communicate knowledge; to teach. Prov 5:7 says, “Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.” It is up to us to teach our children what we want them to learn. You are the teacher and if they don’t hear from you then they will take their instruction from others. In church, we teach doctrine and principles the complement what you should be teaching them at home.
Commanding — Prov 6:20 — “my son, keep thy father’s commandment.” To command is to give orders; to direct with authority. Commands are absolute. There is nothing grey or uncertain about them. And they must be backed with authority. J.C. Penney’s first enterprise was raising hogs. He bought one and his neighbors helped him by giving him scraps to feed them. He sold the hog and bought more to raise and sell. Soon, the hogs were a nuisance to the neighbors because of their smell and noise. Penney’s father commanded him to sell all his hogs. Then he taught Penney this lesson, “You have no right to make money if, by doing so, you are taking advantage of others.”
Training — Prov 22:6 — To train is to guide or control the mental, moral, physical and spiritual development of. Training goes beyond teaching, in that you are doing more than imparting knowledge. You are developing your child’s habits that he will live by for the rest of his life. Gun safety, for instance. The son of a famous lawyer was being sentenced for forgery and the judge was disappointed that this son of such a prominent man of law would be guilty of such a crime. The young man said, “When I approached my father to spend time with him, he said, ‘Run away, boy, I’m busy.’ And here I am.”
Chastening — Prov 13:24 — “he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Eph 6:4 “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Nurture is non-verbal communication and includes not only hugs but also physical discipline for correction. Prov 29:15 “the rod [nurture] and reproof [admonition] give wisdom.” Prov 22:15 “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” This chastisement derives from our relationship to the Lord [Heb 12:6] who chastens those he loves. Prov 3:12 “For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
Exemplifying — Prov 20:7 — “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” To exemplify is to show by example; serve as an example of. Your words are meaningless if you don’t live by the same thing you teach, command and train. Don’t do anything that you don’t want your children to do, also.
A preacher, with three sons, kept a dog that had wandered away from his rightful owner. They pulled three conspicuous white hairs out of the dog’s tail so that the owner couldn’t absolutely identify his dog. Afterwards, the preacher lamented that he lost his three sons to the world when he lied to the owner of that dog. They never believed another word he preached. What you do speaks louder than what you say.
You are setting an example, Every day in all you do, For the little boy who’s waiting, To grow up to be like you.
Conclusion: if you want your child to know something, teach him. If you want her to do something, command her. If you want him to live by something, train him. If you want her to correct something, chasten her. And if you want them to follow something, show them.
A preacher with 10 children was criticized by his children because he didn’t use his powerful brains to become a successful lawyer so that they could afford to go to college. He replied that they would have cursed him from hell louder that that if he hadn’t preached. He gave them an incorruptible inheritance. As he said, “Money isn’t everything. When I am gone, at least you will know that I knew Jesus.”