Sermon Notes: Mothers Day 2023

Parenting. On parent/child commissioning Sunday, I can’t think of anything more appropriate than to see if we can find some parenting wisdom in the Bible. 

Parenting does not end. Parents will be parenting until we pass to be with the Lord, and we need some instruction from the Lord full of hope for every stage of the parenting journey. 

Some stages will be harder than others due to many factors, and it will likely be different for each of us. 

We want to share some wisdom from the Proverbs that is sober-minded, and intended to set us up for the long haul of parenting. 

Speaking about the Proverbs, listen to Ray Ortlund, Jr. on the good and sober-minded help from the Proverbs:

“God does not intend to crush us with layer upon layer of demand. He intends to help us. The book of Proverbs is practical help from God for weak people like us stumbling through daily life. It is his counsel for the perplexed, his strength for the defeated, his warning to the proud, his mercy for the broken. The book of Proverbs is the gospel—good news for the inept through the wisdom of Another. We have every reason to receive it with a whole heart.” – Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Preaching the Word: Proverbs—Wisdom That Works, ed. R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 13.

That really is fantastic news. 

But, do the Proverbs make promises that are not trustworthy? 

Many parents have held on to the Bible’s proverbial wisdom and sometimes it feels like they’ve held on to those Proverbs in vain because the results don’t seem to come. 

I’ve provided a link to a helpful article I’d recommend on that very issue, and I’ll summarize it for us as a preface to our study of Proverbs 22:6.

Proverbs the book seems to promise some good things for the People of the Lord who walk in wisdom (see Proverbs 3:1-12). 

Personally, I don’t think I’ve done an adequate job of making sense of the Proverb’s instructions and what look like promises attached to the instructions. 

So, how are we to understand these promises in light of some of our experiences that don’t look like the seemingly promised outcome? Some people will tell you that it’s because you didn’t have enough faith. But is that really it?

Are the Proverbs just probabilities and not promises?

To say the Proverbs are probabilities is not untrue, and to say they are promises is not untrue either. To some extent, they are promised probabilities as we walk in obedience to the Lord in his way as we overcome the kingdom of darkness. In this walk, we are indeed opposed by fools and the foolish actions of those who are entrapped by the dark kingdom’s lies and jukes. 

Those who obey the Lord sometimes reap the full fruit of that obedience in this life sooner or later. It’s probable that we may see amazing good from following the wise counsel of Proverbs. 

But what about the times when we exercise God’s wisdom, and the results don’t pan out according to the good promise? 

Did God fail? Does God tell the truth? Did I mess up something?

There are two possibilities, there could be more, but here are two.

  1. The Lord could be disciplining us for our good.
    1. Proverbs 3:11-12 (ESV) 11 My son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
      1. Hebrews 12:3-8 is commentary on Proverbs 3:11-12.
        1. Hebrews 12:3-8 (ESV) 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
    2. Discipline is a sign we are loved and that we belong to the Lord, not the opposite.
      1. So, we could be delayed in receiving the fruit of wise living as the Lord is training various levels of sin out of us, and that could involve some manner of suffering. 
    3. In the Lord’s discipline of us, we must be careful about complaining.
      1. “When we complain of our sufferings, we are not asking for more love, but less,” C. S. Lewis writes in “The Problem of Pain”. God conforms his children to the obligation of the promise so we can experience the blessing of the promise. In fact, if you know you are living in sin and see no corrective discipline by God in your life, that isn’t a sign of his blessing, but his rejection of you.” (Quoted from the TGC article linked above.)
    4. So, it could be the Lord training us for righteousness.
      1. But what about times when it’s not for discipline?
  2. “This is the second possibility. God chooses some people to an even higher form of blessing than these promises—a type of blessing that can only come through suffering. It’s the blessing of God’s deeper presence. This is what the prosperity movement gets so wrong: it assumes the “blessed life” is the pain-free life. But what if there’s a deeper, higher blessing? This is a blessing the apostle Paul understood when he said this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17)”. (Quoted from the TGC article linked above.)
    1. So, either we get 1) the fruit of obeying the wisdom, or 2) the Lord trains sin out of us to make us holy and then gives us the fruit of wise actions or 3) the Lord has greater glories for us at some point, so we must set our eyes of faith on the Lord’s promise of only good for us so that we don’t lose heart in the practice of wisdom and obeying God’s word.
      1. With this as our backdrop, let’s look at some parenting wisdom that gives you a roadmap and profound hope. 

Let’s read our Scripture together.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) 6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Robert Alter translates it: “Train up a lad in the way he should go, when he grows old he will still not swerve from it.” – 

Literal: “Dedicate a child in the way according to him, when he is old he will not put it away from him.”

What instruction can we gather for our parenting journeys?

We have a command: Train 

  1. The parenting command is to “Train”.
    1. This word can be translated as “train” or “dedicate”.
      1. “Train” is a command, and it means we have a task to do while our little ones are receptive.
        1. NOTE: There will come a time when they are not receptive, and you have to set boundaries on acceptable and non-acceptable.
          1. So, your most effective days of training are when our children are young. 
        2. Translations prefer “train” over “dedicate” because “dedicate” comes off as too passive in English for the imperative that it is. 
        3. The sense of the word is active and requires action.
          1. We’ll speak to that in the next point. 
      2. This training is to begin when they are children while they are “teachable”.
        1. You are going to get to a place where your efforts to train will ricochet off that iron forehead of a teenager, and you are then going to need others to come along beside you and affirm what you are training. 
        2. “I’m pretty sure that after manual labor and having to wear clothes, parenting teenagers was the next biggest result of the fall.” – Chris Hayes
          1. You begin training in utero.
            1. What you listen to, the language you speak, the voices heard, and the environment you create, all affect that child from conception to birth. 
            2. Example: Gabriel Jolly has been to more Third Day concerts in utero than after being born, so when he would be fussy, we could put on the hardest Third Day song that should not be soothing, and he’d relax and go to sleep.
              1. He was being trained in the womb. 
          2. You continue training, and that training will need to evolve through the years and through various circumstances.

We have an objective for the command: “To go in the way of the Lord”.

  1. In other words, the command is not just any old set of commands.
    1. There are plenty of wise commands for life that are necessary for survival. 
    2. Proverbs 22:6 is talking about the ultimate objective we are commanded to train. 
  2. The object of this command is indicated by the preposition “in” which points us to the destination of our training: “the way he/she should go”.
    1. This means the training is specific for a desired outcome. 
  3. There has been considerable debate about this part of the verse’s meaning. Is it the literal translation or the sense of what the author is getting at?
    1. Option 1 – Literal: “The way according to him.”
      1. If this is the case, each child needs different training based on something unique in the child.
        1. This could be more vocational in nature. 
    2. Option 2 – Author’s sense: “The way he should go.”
      1. Given that the Proverbs are not getting specific about individual children or men or women and their potential vocations, but teaches in a general sense the wise application of God’s law, it stands to reason that the “way according to him” is “the way he should go”, and the way each child should go is the way of the Lord’s word in which there is life.
        1. 1 Kings 6:11-14 (ESV) 1 Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon, 12 “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.” 14 So Solomon built the house and finished it.
    3. I believe the Proverb’s intent is that we are to train children to know the Lord and the way of his kingdom.
      1. Matthew 6:33 (ESV) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
      2. What TRAINING might Proverbs 22:6 have in mind?
        1. Teaching children the content of the Bible. 
        2. Setting patterns and habits that keep you in the life, rhythms, and atmosphere of the local church, the people of God.
          1. A generation that does not prioritize this will produce a generation that abandons it.
            1. When folks buck the idea of “habits” as somehow anti-Holy Spirit, just ask them to only breathe when the Spirit moves. 
            2. That is a nonsense idea.
              1. True Godward spontaneity grows in the garden of disciplined and habitual effort at growth. 
              2. Set habits for children that show the way. 
        3. This means battling to be present in the life and rhythms of the local church and considerate of everyone around you and in your life at all times.
          1. This is because the Law is summarized by loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. 
          2. This is learning to put others before yourself by being self-aware. 

We have a hope for our labor of training: “Children will walk in the way”.

  1. The hope of our labor as parents is that our children will stay on the way they’ve been trained.
    1. As you raise your children, live transparently and authentically before your spouse, your children, and the church. 
    2. Repent of sin quickly. 
    3. Strive to pray in faith that the Lord can and will cause the training to take root and bear fruit. 
    4. Don’t give up praying.
      1. Pray when it’s all working as it should.
        1. Don’t let ease lull you to sleep and stop being vigilant as a watchman on the wall. 
      2. Pray when it seems to be in shambles.
        1. Luke 18:1-8
        2. Luke 15:11-32 The Prodigal (lost) Son
      3. I heard a wise older parent say one time: “Don’t judge your parenting until your kids are 35 years old.”
        1. You can do the same thing as consistently as you can and as holy and righteous as humanly possible and the training works on one and doesn’t on the other. 
        2. Keep praying. 
    5. On the hard days, remember Psalm 84:11.
      1. Psalms 84:11 (ESV) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.


  1. Believe parenting is a call to live in obedient faith.
    1. Obey the Lord as best as you can, and trust the Lord for his good outcomes. 
  1. Accept that parenting is a call to suffer sometimes, and it will be ok because we know the Lord will only do us good. 
  1. Remember parenting is a call to surrender ultimate outcomes to the Lord. 
  1. Believe parenting is a call to wrestle against the unseen forces arrayed against us. 
  1. Know parenting is a call to master receiving the fruit of the Holy Spirit. 

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