Sunday, November 19, 2006

Growth & Development of a Child

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6)
Proverbs 22:6 is a biblical prescription for rearing children. This verse reveals two key ingredients in the prescription: First, the command, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” and second, the promise, “when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The command involves three parts:
The Concept of Training: “Train Up”
This does not denote corporal punishment but rather includes three ideas:
(1) Dedication – This is the consistent meaning of the word in its other Old Testament occurrences
i. Deuteronomy 20:5
ii. 1 Kings 8:63
iii. 2 Chronicles 7:5
Child training must begin with dedication of the child to God. Parents must realize that the child belongs exclusively to God and is given to the parent only as a stewardship.
(2) Instruction – This is the meaning of this word as it is used in the Jewish writings. The parents are to instruct or cause their children to learn everything essential in pleasing God.
(3) Motivation – This is the meaning of this word in Arabic, as it is used to describe the action of a midwife who stimulates the palate of the newborn babe so it will take nourishment. Parents are to create a taste or desire within the child so that he is internally motivated, rather than externally compelled, to do what God wants him to do.

The Recipient of Training: “A Child”
This is one of the seven Hebrew words translated by the English word child and would better be translated by our word dependent. As long as the child is dependent on his parents, he is to be the recipient of training, regardless of his age.

The Content of The Training: “In The Way That He Should Go”
The thought is that at each stage of his development the parents or guardians are to dedicate, instruct, and motivate the child to do what God evidently has best equipped the child to do for Him. This is graphically illustrated by Joshua when he said, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
If the command has been kept, the promise can be claimed. The promise includes the certainty of realization – “he will not depart from it.” If the commandment has not been kept, the promise will not be realized. Rearing children is not an overnight occurrence; it takes careful forethought and conscious obedience on the parts of the parents.

The Life of Jesus As A model
The growth, development, maturation and ultimate fulfillment of Jesus’ life is worthy of examination. In this society, unfortunately, it has been determined that a child is legally “ready” and responsible to handle the following activities at a predetermined age:
Age Limit
Drink alcohol
21 years
Drunkenness, dependency, irresponsibility
Drive a car
16 years, 9 months
Non-owner breeds unappreciation for usage of parent’s car
Have sex
Generally starts at 14 years
Unprepared for the unexpected outcomes, such as pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases, guilt, attachment (love), and abandonment (often by boys toward girls)
Earn wages from a job
14 years
An understanding of financial stewardship
Cell phone usage
Generally starts as early as 11 years
Inability to manage calling plan and lack of steady funds to pay overage fees
Freshman in high school, or 14 years
Loud music leads to violence and ultimately leads to illicit sex
Bypass educational opportunities as presented
Graduation from high school (or before), or 17 years
The beginning of shattered dreams, hopes, and life-long aspirations

The Book of Luke interprets the life of Jesus in a manner worthy of emulating in today’s society. The life of Jesus, both as the son of man and the Son of God, is a testimony in and of itself. He lived in the earth for 33 ½ years and was on a specific assignment from His Father – to save and redeem mankind. Observe what He accomplished! His first twelve years was spent in training. Luke 2:42 reveals that Jesus, a Jewish male, became a full member of the religious community at age 13. By age 12, He underwent preparation for this. “And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.” After twelve years of their annual feast of the Passover in Jerusalem, Jesus stayed behind, without His parents’ knowledge (Luke 2:45). Following a three-day search for Him, his parents found Him in the temple, amongst the teachers and asking questions (2:46). Amazed at what their son had learned within twelve years, Jesus responds to his parents’ inquiry, thinking that He was lost, “How it is that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (2:49). Jesus’ reply was indicative of His readiness to begin training for His purpose on earth – To seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). For 18 years, he prepared to enter into His divine purpose. He was baptized by John (3:21), empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out His purpose (3:22), and received His official confirmation from our Heavenly Father to enter into His purpose through these words: “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (3:22).
Then, The Holy Bible reveals that Jesus was 30 years old when He began His three-and-a-half year ministry by teaching, training, and encouraging His hand-picked disciples about how to carry out the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).


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