Proverbs 4:1-2 (ESV)

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,

and be attentive, that you may gain insight,

[2] for I give you good precepts;

do not forsake my teaching.

A good father will talk to his children and teach them. He will take the time to tell them what is right and good. He will warn them about what is evil. The father of Proverbs is passing on truth to his son. Read the whole chapter. There is such an urgency in his teachings. He is aware that there is much in the world that can cause his son to live a life away from God and truth and goodness. He is not content to let others encourage and warn his son. He will not leave it up to the school system or the church or his wife to do what God has called him to do. He sits down with him and talks with him. He is honest and prayerful and so full of concern for the spiritual well being of his son.

Consider the words that he uses to urge his son to righteous living: “Let you heart hold fast”, “do not forget”, do not turn away”, “do not forsake”, “prize [wisdom] highly”, “accept my words”, “keep hold of instruction”, “ do not let go”, “guard [instruction]”, “do not walk in the way of evil”, “do not go in it”, “my son, be attentive”, “incline your ears to my sayings”, “let them not escape from your sight”, “keep them in your heart”, “Do not swerve to the right or to the left”. This is a father who knows that the world is a place that takes the innocent and gullible and malleable and trains them in unrighteousness. He is not content to let it happen. He talks to his son. He writes things down for his son.

Such care and concern would hardly be a once in a lifetime thing. Such concern would not be content to just say it once and then never bring it up again. This child will have truth pounded into him so that when he does enter the world he will know what is right and what is wrong and he will have been trained in the way of righteousness and take it instead of the alternatives that are offered. Parenting is not for the lazy. It is not for those who have a “que sera, sera” attitude. It is for those who understand that their children are a reward from God and that they are loaned by God to us and they come with instructions regarding how to raise them properly.

Righteousness, faith and morality are not natural to any of us and anyone who has ever been a parent knows that their children are not the exception. Do not think that you can raise a child for God without a great deal of prayer, wisdom and time spent with your children. There is no substitute for prayer, godly living in front of your kids, sound teaching and a watchful eye. There are no exceptions to the rule of putting a lot of hard work into the raising of our kids. We live in a culture that teaches us that the culture can raise our children better than we can. We are led to believe that the experts can teach them, train them. What they need, we are told, is better day care, better schools. The problem is not enough money being put into social agencies to steer our young ones into being productive adults. As good as some of these things may be, they can never substitute for the kind of parenting that the Scriptures teach us are necessary.

Don’t let your schedule, your quest for success, your time in other necessary pursuits, take you away from this most important endeavour. Do not rejoice that you are a parent until you prove you are one by instructing your children in the way that they should go. Their lives depend upon it.