The Way of Wisdom
The job of a Christian parent should be simple: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). This wisdom seems simple enough, perhaps even self-explanatory. The earlier a child learns something, the more likely it is to stick with him. So we immerse our children in a foreign language so that they’ll be bilingual. We teach our children manners so it will be second nature to act politely in any circumstance. We drill multiplication facts into their little minds so that they can recall 8x7=56 without too much mental effort. Train him up. And he will carry this way with him until he is old.
Unfortunately, the opposite side of the coin also proves true. If a child has been neglected or abused, if he has been hungry and thirsty, this too will endure. Lack of love, absence of trust: this may be the way that the child has been trained. Even when he is old, this way will be a part of who he is. The simple truth is that, in some way, large or small, children will be influenced by the training they receive.
So what is the “way” that a child should be trained? What are the specifics? Is the “way” to combine manners and morals and sprinkle a Jesus story on top? Is the “way” a heartfelt affirmation that a Sovereign God does exist? Is the “way” happiness and contentment as long as it does not hurt your neighbor? Maybe the “way” of wisdom is a few years of counseling and a handful of self-help books. Or possibly, the “way” of wisdom stoically resists any change to preserve a good path from the past. We might assume that all ways are equal to raising a child in wisdom, but they are not.
To train a child up is to answer critical questions about Wisdom’s path. “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, and equity, every good path; for Wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul” (Prov. 2:6, 9-10). Wisdom is not found floating around our hearts and minds. Wisdom is not found in the musing of other sinners struggling to discover the path. Wisdom comes from the mouth of the Almighty God. Wisdom is the Word of God.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:1-5, 14, 17).
God’s Wisdom is the Word who became flesh. God’s Wisdom is the Son, who delivered grace and truth. God’s Wisdom is the “way” of Christ Jesus.
Foretold in the Garden of Eden, proclaimed on the lips of Prophets for centuries, the way of Wisdom was born of a virgin in a little town of Bethlehem. Not majestic or noble, this infant Word imprinted His tiny toe on to the dusty path of a very focused way. The Lord gave His only begotten Wisdom to His undeserving creation. From His Almighty mouth came understanding; “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
In His Word, the “way” of righteousness, justice, equity, and the good path become a little clearer. The LORD of all creation is pleased with the way of Jesus. Drenched in repentance for sins He did not commit: this is the way of Wisdom. Enduring along a road of unjust suffering: this is the way of Wisdom. Quiet, forsaken, dying in public shame: this is the way of Wisdom. On account of His suffering and death on a cross, your life has been spared. This is the Wisdom of God.
“But we preach Christ crucified…Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:23-25).
What is the “way” then, a child should be trained up? The way of Wisdom is grace and truth ultimately won by a sacrificial death on a cross for the forgiveness of all sin. The way of Wisdom is perfect righteousness given, not earned. The way of Wisdom is the Word eternally sealed upon your head and your heart. The “way” a child should be trained is deeply rooted in the free gifts of Christ.
We drastically misunderstand the way of Wisdom if we reduce it to teaching morality. We sell our child eternally short by simply hedging his way down the path. We choose not to know nor understand the depth of God’s grace and that the “way” of Wisdom has won on our behalf if we simply train him to avoid evil.
The job of a Christian parent should be simple. “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Training our children in the way of Christ is essential. Free forgiveness for wrongdoing. Unmerited mercy for life. Christ is the only “way” of Wisdom.
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed” (Prov. 3:13-18).