Importance of Education for Covenant Children.
By Richard Bacon
The Text as edited, Copyright 2007 © FPCR

Parental Prerequisites

In the original covenant that God made with Adam, God gave Adam dominion over the earth and told him to be fruitful and multiply. In the commandment to be fruitful and multiply, Adam, even in an unfallen state, was required to bring up his children to understand their callings before the Lord. We who are fallen are also required to raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is a normal part of our Christian life. But to be able to accomplish this command, Christian parents have to begin with certain attributes in our lives before we can communicate those attributes to our children.

1. Genuine Personal Religion

First, parents must have genuine personal religion. I am using the word religion in the sense of doing what God has called us to do. It must be personal, it must be genuine, and it must be according to God’s law. We must have it to be able to teach it. We must have a habit of following God. We might term this “habitual holiness.” This does not mean that a parent must be perfect before he or she can teach a child. However, the parent must be inculcating in himself, as well as in his children, a habit of holiness. Parents must have a habit of following after the Lord; a habit of walking with him; a habit of doing what God requires. The habits of a parent’s life must be such that when he speaks to his child, the child does not see something different from what he hears. What the child sees in the life of his parents and the instructions he receives from them must agree.

2. Discrimination

The second qualification that parents must cultivate in themselves is the ability to discriminate. I am using the word “discriminate” in the old way. “Discrimination” is the ability to divide that which is good and proper from that which is bad and improper. To discriminate means “to mark a difference.” If we are going to raise children, we must be able to discriminate between what they do that is good and what they do that is bad. We must be able to tell the difference between good and evil. We have to have insight into our children’s behavior. We have to watch them. We have to observe them. We have to know when they are telling the truth and when they are lying. Children sometimes lie to their parents. Even children of the covenant have lied to their parents. Some parents, when they were children, did the same thing. Parents must have the insight to be able to listen to their children carefully enough to know when they are telling us the truth and when they are not. We need to be able to discern when their motives are what they ought to be and when they are not. If we do not cultivate that ability; if we do not cultivate that discrimination; we will not know how to admonish our children. We will be correcting them when they ought not to be corrected; and we will be leaving undone correction that ought to be taking place.

3. Prudence

The third thing that we need to cultivate in ourselves is prudence. This is a virtue that we must first develop in ourselves so that we can nurture it in our children. Today, the word “prudence” is almost never used, but in the past, it was considered a virtue. Prudence simply means “good sense.” Prudence is the ability to look at a situation, recognize the situation for what it is, and then apply godly wisdom to it. We need that. We must have that in our own lives if we would cultivate it in our children’s.

4. Firmness

Fourth, we must have firmness. This does not mean cruelty. Nor does it mean that we beat our children until they submit to our wills. But neither does it mean that we indulge them. Firmness simply means that we do not indulge their appetites. It means that we do not give in to them. It means that just because there is a tear in their eye, we do not repent from what we have done if what we have done is the right thing to do. We must be firm and not indulgent.

5. Consistent

Related to that firmness, we must be consistent. If a parent handles one child differently than he handles another child, it can be a source of bitterness and resentfulness between the children or between the child and his parents. We must be consistent also from one time to another. If an action deserved punishment on one occasion, the same action will likely deserve punishment on a second occasion. The lack of consistency brings ambiguity and uncertainty toward parents, discipline and sometimes even God’s law. It is almost guaranteed to provoke a child to anger.

6. Proper Goal

Finally, we must know what our goal is in the instruction of our children. What is the desired end of our correction? What do we hope to accomplish in our admonishments? We must know for what purpose we train up our children. Until we have that goal firmly in our minds, our discipline will lack true direction and focus.

In Proverbs 22:6 we are told to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We are not told to train up a child in the way he should think or train up a child in the way he should speculate or train up a child in the way he should dance or train up a child in the way he should do art. We are told to train up a child in the way he should go. We are training our children for living. We are training our children to be doers of God’s word. We are training our children to be walkers in God’s way. Therefore the goal that must always be before our eyes is the spiritual welfare of our child and the glory of God. God is glorified in our raising of our children with their spiritual interests ever before our eyes.