Someone once said, “He who does not teach his son a trade, is much the same as if he taught him to be a robber”. There is much truth in that statement. It comes from an age in which one needed to learn a trade, such as black-smith, carpenter, baker or harness maker. One who had no training in some such trade was almost sure to be somewhat destitute and would often turn to stealing from those who worked to provide for themselves and their families. Our children must be taught to provide for their own needs and the needs of those they are responsible for in an honest and upright manner (II Thess. 3:10; I Thess. 4:11-12; Rom. 12:17). Children need to be raised with the understanding that they must be responsible for themselves. It is not the responsibility of the government, the church or our fellow-man to provide for the necessities of life, let alone the luxuries of life. No one owes us anything. We must earn that which we need and want. Granted there are those who are unable to care for themselves, and they are to be cared for, but otherwise, we are to provide for ourselves. Our society is turning more and more to an “entitlement” society. More and more people are relying upon the government to take care of them. Either they do not realize that it is their fellow-man that is footing the bill or they do not care that others are being burdened with their care. Let us be sure that we instill in our children a sense of self responsibility. The time may well come when any who are unprepared to care for themselves will be unable to get the kind of hand-outs they are presently getting.
Yet, it seems that there is one “trade” that it is much more needful for us to teach our children! It is the profession of being a Christian. It is indeed a profession, though many try to make a part-time job, a social event or a side-line out of it. Being a true Christian is a full time job, every day of every week. It is more needful to instill this in the minds of our children because the soul is of much greater value than the body. Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matt. 10:28). As compared to material prosperity, Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). One may, and many do, “fare sumptuously” in this life, only to find themselves “in hell, lifting up their eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:19, 23).
Eunice and Lois, the mother and grandmother of Timothy were said to have had unfeigned faith and Paul was persuaded that Timothy also had such (II Tim. 1:5). Though we know not what trade Timothy had previously been taught, we know that he had been taught the trade of “child of God”. Timothy was already a disciple when Paul met him (Acts 16:1). Later, Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:14-15). Again, we know not what physical trade Timothy had been prepared for, but we do know that his mother and grandmother made sure that from a child he was trained in how to serve God in a manner acceptable to Him.
We wish to adamantly encourage each and every parent to do all that is in their power to teach, lead and instill in their children the recognition of personal responsibility when it comes to the physical needs and opportunities in this life. Though much has deteriorated, we still live in a nation that provides the best of opportunities for us to make something of ourselves. But, let us even more adamantly encourage each and every parent to do all that is in their power to lead their children down the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14). They will not get this training in public school, in fact they may be taught things that would lead them away from this soul saving path. They will not get this training from the television or the computer. Again, what they find there will likely lead them down the broad and easy path that leads to destruction. They can get only small doses of this training from church assemblies. What they need are parents who love them enough to not only “teach them a trade”, but to teach them more than “a trade”.
As we close these thoughts, it would be well for us to take note of this one fact. One cannot teach what they do not know and one cannot lead where they do not go. Adults must set the proper example when it comes to taking personal responsibility for the physical needs and adults must also walk the strait and narrow if they would desire their children to walk that path. Eternal salvation is not something that we are entitled to. God does not owe us anything. We will have to learn the trade and live the life if we will have it.
(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)