Children can be the joy of your existence or the bane of it. Solomon helps us see what makes the difference. He starts with the command to “train up a child in the way he should go...” This creates an immediate problem, because we struggle to know which way we should go. Our flesh reveals one way while the Spirit and the Word direct us in an opposite way. As a family, we chose to go the way of the Spirit and the Word and not worry with the flesh and its plans. To train a child does not just mean “to teach;” instead, it adds an extra idea — parents teach their kids and then live what they teach so the see and know how to walk in the way of the Spirit and the Word. Modern-day parents seem to think there is a disconnect between what they say and what they do. Children, however, learned from both and will be more apt to do what you do than to do what you say. They also will not naturally obey you even when you are training them according to the Spirit and the Word. Solomon reminds us that discipline is a key ingredient in any training that we do. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” The king of Israel is not rationalizing abuse, but he is reminding us that discipline must be a part of our training. If it is not, then our children will lean more towards folly than to faithfulness to our teaching. That folly will rule their lives if we are unwilling to use “the rod of discipline.” Are you training your children or teaching them? Have you decided that discipline is not needed in training? If so, how is that working for you?

Help me, Lord, to train my children by Your Spirit through Your Word. Help me to employ discipline in that training knowing it will remove some of the folly that will lead my kids away from the truth.