Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Have you ever seen a fat railroad car?
Ever seen a fat caboose? There is no such thing is there?
Railroad cars are built to strict specifications as to size so they will fit the railroad track, the bridges, the tunnels, the mountain walls and other railroad cars that barrel towards them at high speeds.
Anything sticking out of a railroad car that is outside the specified limits will be cut off.
Railroad cars are not fat but are long and narrow to fit the track.
The track is narrow and the distance between wheels of the car must also be narrow.
The cars must be fitted to the track in order for the cars to successfully get to their destination.
The track is not fitted to the cars but the cars must be fitted to the track.
No one who designs railroad cars would dare propose that the track gauge (the distance between tracks) would be changed to fit a different distance between wheels on a newly designed car.
No one would propose that the direction of the track and the destination of the track be changed to fit a railroad car designer's whims.
The gauge and the direction and the destination of the track is fixed. No changes allowed.
Anyone who proposed a change would be carried out on a rail!
In order for railroad cars to perform a function they must stay on the track.
A railroad car off the track is not right.
Railroad cars off of the track and used for other things such as restaurants are like fish out of water.
Cows in the city. Buffaloes roaming in your home.
They are out of their element.
I never have liked to see an airplane tied to the ground as a monument because an airplane is designed to be free to fly.
A railroad car moving on track is a beautiful thing to see because it is doing what it was designed to do.
The car is narrow and built for a particular purpose and that purpose is only fulfilled as it stays and moves on the track.
It follows the track whether the track is going uphill or downhill or around curves or across river bridges.
The railroad car is always consistent and never tries to make its own way but faithfully follows the track that is laid out for it by the maker of the railroad.
It doesn't have to know where the track leads it just has to follow the track and it is fitted to follow the track.
Once it is fitted to the track it will follow the track no matter how old the railroad car gets.
Age is not a factor of whether it follows the track or not because it was fitted to follow the track when it was constructed and it is placed on the track when it is ready for service.
Age does not change the gauge of the wheels or the narrowness of the rail car.
Those are fixed from the car's youth!
What have I described here? Why! Our proverb of course!
The first word of our proverb is "train."
The basic meaning of this word in Hebrew means to narrow.
This proverb could read, "Narrow up a child in the way he should go".
The inference is that unless the child is narrowed he will end up broad.
To narrow a child is to fit the child for the way the child is to go.
To narrow a railroad car is to fit the car for the track which is the way.
Unless the car is narrowed the car will meet with disaster along the way.
It will not only hurt itself but will hurt other cars or structures.
And so too does this apply to a child.
A child must be narrowed. His mind must be narrowed.
His mind must be narrowed to the way that he is to go.
Otherwise he will not fit the way and if he is not fit for the way he will meet disaster just as a wide railroad car would.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:13,14, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
It is the parents responsibility to help the child find it.
A child that is not narrowed will grow up to be on the broad way that leads to destruction.
The way of the world is broad.
A child left to himself will find himself on that broad way.
A parent's responsibility to to reign him in to a narrow way.
Training then is forming that child narrowly so that it will fit the way that is narrow.
That is what the word "train" of this verse means.
Train up a child in the way he should go.
So we are told to train or narrow a child but what are we to narrow him for?
Just as a railroad car is narrowed for a specific gauge track we are to narrow a child for a specific track or way.
Jesus said in John 14:6, ..... I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
So Jesus Christ is the way, he is the track.
He is the track that leads to the Father and there is no other track that leads to the Father.
A parents job is to fit the child for the track by narrowing him for the track.
Teaching the fear of the Lord is narrowing the child for the track.
Using the rod and reproof is narrowing the child for the track.
Learning obedience is narrowing the child for the track.
The instruction of doctrine by a father is narrowing the child for the track.
Narrowing by instructing in wisdom, justice, judgment and equity.
Narrowing by giving subtlety to the simple and to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Narrowing him by praying for him and teaching him or her how to pray
Ever narrowing, never broadening.
Focusing the child on the track who is Jesus Christ.
In other words training a child to have a one track mind.
Paul captured this truth in Philippians 2:5-11, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus Christ narrowed himself to the form of a servant.
He narrowed himself in humble submission.
He narrowed himself in obedience unto death.
But then God broadened him when he exalted him that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Don't we want the same for our children?
Don't we want to see our children lifted up by God?
Certainly we do but the narrowing must take place first.
The child must be fitted for the track.
The child must be fitted to servant hood, he must be fitted to humility and obedience.
He must be fitted to the way that God has prepared if he eventually is to be lifted up.
And God has promised in this proverb that when he is old he will not depart from it.
This is a narrowing that will see him though life.
This narrowing will take him to the end of his life.
Start the child on the way and this start will carry him all though life and even when he is old he will still be on the same way.
Done in accordance with the Bible there will be no derailment.
Prepare him for this track, prepare him for this way and he shall endure unto the end as Jesus Christ said in:
Matthew 24:13, But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Why shall he be saved? Because he was prepared for the track that leads to the Father.