When He Is Old Prov. 22: 6 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
We understand that Prov 22:6 is a principle, not a promise. However, we want to stress four words from this verse that are often overlooked. They are “when he is old.” That’s not when he is a teenager, or when he is a young adult. That’s “when he is old.” There is a long view in mind here. In this sermon, “he” is a reference to your sons and daughters.
It takes time for your training to manifest itself. So, don’t be naive when you see the affect of your training in their early years. They may raise your expectations and sorely disappoint you later. Conversely, don’t be discouraged with their early rebellion. Sometimes, parents give up on their kids too early. And whatever you do, don’t be impatient. Training takes time and the fruit of training takes time to become apparent.
Why must we wait till “he is old?” Why is their such a delay?
Sometimes, the training doesn’t manifest itself because there was none. Your child received plenty of discipline. However, discipline and chastisement are not “training.” Correction and reproof address something that just happened. When we train we’re talking about training for life; not for a moment. The training of Prov 22:6 falls under the category of Life Lessons. Your children might be trained how to play a sport, hunt, fish, or work. But have they been trained in the ways of the Lord for life?
Sometimes, the delay is due to immaturity. Dr. Peacock’s father said, “Son, you’re going to have to wait until they’re 40 to find out how those kids are going to turn out.” I have seen young ones who look like they are really going to amount to something. Yet, by the time they are 40, they’re total failures. On the other hand, I’ve seen some who take a big detour in their teens and twenties and then by the time they’re 40, even some a little older, they turn out great and do very well for the Lord. They finally grow up.
Sometimes, the delay is due to the timing of the Lord. God isn’t going to intervene until just the right time. The Lord isn’t in any hurry when he is dealing with our children. And he doesn’t work on our schedule. In Jn 16:16-20, “a little while” turns out to be nearly 2,000 years. The Lord is not going to tell you how long before your child follows your training. If he didn’t tell Jesus the timing of the 2nd Advent [Matt 24:36], do you think he is going to tell you when you’re going to see the fruit of your training? He’ll give you the same answer that Jesus gave his disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” He knows (foreknowledge), but he’s not going to tell you. He knows the path your child is on and he is waiting way down the road to get your child’s attention.
Sometimes, the delay is due to your child’s disobedience. Your child knows what to do; he just doesn’t want to do it. And he’s not going to do it until the pressure is on him to change. The Lord is waiting for just the right set up to get his attention. He knows your child won’t turn unless the right conditions and consequences are in place. So, all your prayers to speed God up aren’t going to change anything. I’ve heard parents pray, “Lord, do what ever you have to do to get their attention, even if you have to kill them.” You’re just putting pressure on God because all the pressure you put on your child didn’t work.
Sometimes, your children never pan out. There is no guarantee that when you train your children well they will turn out well. You do the best you can and then you leave them in God’s hand. You only get a certain amount of time to train them and then your training is done. Be content to accept the words of the Lord to Mary… “she hath done what she could.”
Conclusion: take a deep breath, get very close to God and wait. If you keep chasing your child, you will run him away and he will never come back to you or to God. You cannot manipulate the circumstances and get better results than God. You will wear yourself completely out. And you will wear out the rest of your family and even some of your friends. Leave your training and your child in the hands of God. And while you wait, don’t enable or condone his disobedience. If you trained him, you made a huge investment in his life and you have good reason to expect a return on your investment. But a big return takes years to accumulate. So, wait.