When The Word Doesn’t Work

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) So many times this verse is read as a “whipping post” passage to someone who needs to learn “how to raise children.” Maybe it’s been used to you concerning your own child who has been rebellious in some way.

No matter who you are, you’ve probably been in a situation or known of someone who has been in a situation where they did do all the right things raising their children. They disciplined well, taught well, and did all they knew to keep their children in touch with God and a real relationship with Him–only to have the devil and his angels send influences into their lives which lead them astray and their life was ruined.

One of the lies of legalism is that the book of Proverbs is to be read as a literal “it-works-every-time” rule book. It’s just not true. They are general principles which I believe are meant to teach us how to live. They teach us the greatest way to live in the truisms of God’s best way for us. I believe they work in the general sense, but we all know of times when they just don’t seem to work like we would like for them too.

We can guilt ourselves into thinking that we just didn’t do it right is the reason for the failure, but God doesn’t want guilt, He wants trust. Trusting God when things go right is easy. Trusting Him when things go wrong is not easy, but it is in these times that we seem to grow in our trust of Him more than ever.

Not only does God desire trust from us when things are not working out like we think they should, He wants us to reach to those in our families who are hurting. It is so important for us as a church family to stand with each other especially when things don’t seem to be working for someone. The scripture says in Galatians 6:1-2 “Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again. But be careful, because you might be tempted to sin, too. By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ.”


7 responses to “When The Word Doesn’t Work

  • Donna

    Amen Keith, that is what we should be all about!

  • That Girl

    A visiting preacher where my mother is a member recently talked about this same thing. Different things work for different people. Different styles of worship, different ways of serving, different ways of learning.

    I was taught that the “raise up a child” verse should have the emphasis on the word “he”. Each child should be raised in a way that is effective for that particular child.

    I’m sure God sees us the same way. We have to search to find what fits our individuality.

    I may not have said all that the way I meant to… I should’ve just said… “I agree”

  • Meowmix

    If it all worked the way it seems it should in this life, there’d be no need of heaven. We’d already be there. But this life has never been a “bed of roses” so to speak and each life and heart carries with it its own particular set of griefs. I’ve seen good parents devastated by the actions of wayward children, into adulthood, never returning. My question in my own mind has always been, “when does the responsibility shift from the parent to the individual?” All through the NT, we are reminded to bear each other’s burdens, be kind and gentle and loving with each other. When we can reach out to a hurting soul, I believe we are being Jesus to that person……..regardless of the particular pain that person is bearing. I probably didn’t say exactly what I mean to, either………..

  • Neva

    Amen! When the child does not come back, it is way to easy to take the blame and to question whether we as parents did everything we could to raise him up in the way he should go.—it takes away the responsibility of the grown child. Having been the parent of a rebellious child, I have struggled with that very proverb and came to the same realization that you did. Even God raising His “child” Israel had to let His child rebel when the child was heart set on it.


  • Matthew

    You address a very sensitive topic in this. People can blame themselves a lot over this. I know a lot of people who have.


  • cwinwc

    Using the words “always,” “God,” and “works” can lead to disappointment. Good post Bro.

  • Greg England

    I heard a Jewish teacher comment on this verse from his perspective and he said the real meaning behind this verse (and Terri was close but missed the application) is that if you train up a child the way “he” wants to go … that is, if you allow a child to always have his / her way, when that child is older they will never depart from their self centeredness. It is the only way this passage makes sense. But you are right in that this (and other proverbs) were never meant to be guarantees … only principles of wisdom.

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