“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (v.6)
One of the saddest situations in life and ministry is the heartbreak of godly parents crying over their wayward son or daughter. The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) emphasizes the graciousness of the father rather than the sinfulness of the son. The father in this account does not seek out his son, but the son's memory of his father's goodness brings him back home through repentance and forgiveness. This parable notes the similarity between the prodigal's reconciliation with his father and our coming to the heavenly Father through Christ. No matter the wisdom, love, and spiritual guidance the father gave throughout his years of rearing his son, ultimately the son chose the path he wanted to take.
Today's focal verse is a proverb well-known to parents grappling with a child's rebellion. Although traditionally considered a promise to parents who have conscientiously and faithfully nurtured the spiritual development of their children, many godly parents experience the heartbreak and disillusionment of watching their children veer away from what they were carefully taught in the home and church.
Consider these three factors when applying this verse:
First, God has given each individual the free will to make his own choices. Despite the preparation and guidance poured into their lives by parents, children are still able to make their own choices.
Second, Satan targets godly families in order to derail their faith and keep them from serving Christ. Unfortunately, through the craftiness of Satan, this situation happens all too often.
Third, parents must remember that their hope is not to be grounded in the actions of a child but in their own obedience to God. Despite the future choices a child may make through his lifetime, parents still have the high calling and responsibility to teach their children biblical truths and to model God's instruction in their own lives.
If you are a parent, do you spend as much time praying for your children as you do worrying, thinking, or posting about them? How often do you make your children aware of what you are praying for them?
If you are not a parent, perhaps you can come alongside a mom in praying for and encouraging the spiritual growth of her children. Perhaps you can pray for and with a family grieving the choices of a prodigal, reminding them that their hope and faith are rooted in the Savior, not in the actions and choices of a wayward son or daughter.
Prayer: Spend time in prayer for a prodigal child - your own or one you know. As you intercede, ask God to bring to that person's memory His goodness and readiness to forgive.
This post was written by Jessica Pigg for our Devotional for Women series.