As a child I often drifted sleep to the sounds of a pounding hammer and a purring sewing machine. Days later, we children would stand in amazement at the transformation done by dad in a remodeling job, or a dress or suit made by mom. Many evening hours had been invested by the carpenter and the seamstress in the careful working out of a plan or a pattern to produce a workmanship of singular beauty and serviceability for years to come.
God is busy building His children into “new creatures,” preparing them for service in His Kingdom. In my father’s workshop a plan became a product. In my mother’s workshop, a pattern became a piece of clothing. In our heavenly Father’s workshop, principle must become practice — a “life style” of “putting off the old man” and “putting on the new man.” “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ. he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Cor. 5:17).
Where is God’s workshop? It is located in three places: the home, the church, and the school. His instruments are ourselves as Christian parents, pastors and elders whom He has commissioned, and teachers who stand solidly upon His Word.
The method for building “new creatures” which God uses in His workshop is called training. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
The method of training involves two things: knowledge and experience. Had the writer of Proverbs chosen the word “teach” instead of “train,” we parents would be content to acquaint our children with certain facts about and commands from God. But the word “train” implies that, in addition to instructing our children, we must personally see to it that the will of God is carried out in their lives. They, as well as we, must be “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only. As parents, we must encourage them along the path of righteousness and holiness, and discipline them when such principles are violated in their lives.
As parents, we are commanded to be examples of the principles and practices we “train” in our children. It is inconsistent. for example, for us to teach our children to “have no other gods,” and then set our priorities on the “things which perish” profit. power, prestige, pleasure or property. It is inconsistent to teach our children “thou shalt not steal.” and then cheat on our income tax, leave bills unpaid, overcharge customers or clients, exploit poor or minority groups, or rob God of our tithes and our offerings. It is inconsistent to teach our children “thou shalt not bear false witness” and then proceed to manipulate facts so as to create a false impression, rationalize or excuse our own disobedient behavior, exaggerate our virtues and minimize our faults.
Our response as parents and children to God’s workmanship is to be one of obedience. This obedience has a negative and a positive side. Negatively, it means saying “no” to sin and all of its allurements. Positively, it means saying “yes” to all that God prescribes for His for His glory and for our happiness A struggle ensues. Beginning in infancy when little ones are taught not to “touch” certain items. it continues through childhood when orders must be obeyed; toys, friends and workloads must be shared; lessons must be learned; and discipline must be endured. As life progresses, the struggle becomes more internal than external. Outwardly, lives may appear to conform to God’s prescription for godly living, but internally, a battle is being waged between covetousness, greed, lust, and bitterness on the one hand, and righteousness and holiness in thought, word and deed, on the other. Praise God for the “sword of the Spirit” which is the Word of God that fortifies. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
In many of our homes, God has placed precious children. He has bound them to Himself in covenant and mandated us, His instruments, to “train” these little ones by teaching, example, encouragement and discipline to say “no” to sin and “yes” to doing God’s will, revealed in His Word. It is His all-wise and all-loving “family plan” for building the Kingdom. It is a solemn task. But we have God’s wonderful promise that, if we are faithful, our children will not depart “from the way they should go.” They may experience the security of God’s presence in their hearts. John 14:23 says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” They may know the joy of being part of the “family” of God. In Matthew 12:50 Jesus says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Can we desire anything more for ourselves, and for our children?