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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Title:Like Father, Like Son
Text:Proverbs 22:6 (View)
Occasion:Father's Day

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


(Readings: 2 Timothy 1:3-14; Leviticus 24:10-16)


Like Father, Like Son!



Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ…


     This verse is a popular motto for Christian schools. It is also often used as the inscription on the front of Christian educational books.

     And rightly so! Here we have a text which proves why we have Christian education classes.


     We can see this already in the first word. It is all about “training” – so instructing, teaching, transferring knowledge.

     But this verse is not directed first of all to Christian School teachers, nor those ministers and elders and others with their classes and study groups.

          This is most of all for the home!


     Peter Eldersveld comments on this verse, “God says it is the business of the home to train the child. He gives children to parents not to outside agencies, no matter how worthy they may be. And he expects the parents to assume full responsibility for those children – unless, of course, they are unable to do so, for some legitimate reason.

     “And he doesn’t want those outside agencies to take over the responsibility of training children, unless they are compelled to do it to compensate for the failure of parents. The point is that nothing can really take the place of the home in the life of the child.”

     And then he goes on. He declares, “Even religion and education belong first of all in the home.”


     So, how do we get this out of this text? Well, congregation, these sayings in Proverbs don’t stand alone. They are part of a whole covenantal teaching flow. While they seem to have common sense in themselves, they make the most sanctified sense within the relationship God’s people already had with the Lord.

     This is why we see these sayings in the light of the five books of Moses – those first five books in the Bible. And going back to those writings we find that the home is paramount. Who doesn’t know those words about this in Deuteronomy 6? There in the verses 5 till 9 Moses proclaims, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with al your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”

     And then he goes on, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”


     It is upon this foundation that we have our text today. All those words of Moses – the Law of the Lord – would have come flooding back into the people’s minds. You see, this is an exposition – a preaching – upon those words.

     This text in Proverbs 22 verse 6 asks us if we have that kind of home. Is everything in your family focussed towards training your children in the fear of the Lord? Are you teaching them that his Word applies to all of life?

     Do you keep your children close to home?  And do you stay close to home yourself, because your home is so close to God? Or do others raise your children?


     I am reminded of a plaque that some people have hanging up on a wall in their home. It has a saying on it, which goes something like this, “Christ is the unseen guest at every meal.”

     Friends, is it this Christ and his cross which you look to in your home? Do you confess your sins to him? Do you trust him to forgive you?  And do you dedicate your lives to his service? ‘Of course we do,’ you say – ‘we’re Christians!’

     But we know, don’t we, the massive changes in society. The threat is even not just out there anymore. It can be inside, flashing vividly from television or computer screens.

     It can all seem so overwhelming! Parenting today seems harder than ever!

     But, and here the text takes us further than before, we have to let each child go their own way. This is a first aspect to the text … EACH CHILD NEEDS TO GO THEIR OWN WAY.


     What? You can’t be serious? If that’s what the text says, doesn’t it go against all the Bible has been saying so far?

     Well, no. We need to listen carefully. The text - and here I translate it literally from the original – says, “Train a child according to his way.”

     It doesn’t refer directly to the Lord’s way. The Hebrew words tie the way into the child.


     Could this be a worldly thought? Again, no. If it were worldly it would say, “Train a child in the way of the world, or in the way of the devil, or in his evil nature.”

     Derek Kidner says that this means respect for his individuality and vocation, though not for his self-will. He also goes on to add that the overall stress is on parental opportunity and duty. But that sense of the child’s uniqueness and talent is there nevertheless.

     This is a concept the New Testament mentions also. In Ephesians 6 verse 4 the apostle writes, “Fathers do not exasperate your children…” You see, that’s what we do as parents when we haven’t put them in enough of a Christian environment to let them express the talents the Lord has given them.


     As parents we don’t always realise the kind of expectations we can place upon our children. It so often seems that children become the way parents live out their frustrated dreams.

     You will see that at a sports field on a Saturday morning. How many Mums and Dads don’t get carried away watching their children playing sport? To hear them shouting you would think you were at an All Blacks game!

     Brothers and sisters, we aren’t meant to train our children in the way we want to go. “Train a child in the way he should go…”


     One commentator says this means we also need to meet our children on their own level. To put on them adult-like concepts is not helpful – just like laying on them the expectation of believing like you do, isn’t right.

     This is one difficulty with the ‘Children at the Lord’s Supper’ debate. Somehow the misunderstanding has come in that our children are missing out if they cannot participate.

     In their own way, though, they are a part of it as much as their parents are. Just because they are not doing certain things doesn’t mean they are not taking it into their hearts in their own way. We assume that they’re relating to it the same way we are; but they’re not! Let’s not forget the talents our children have, and the level they are on.

     In this connection, a good teaching of children is one that answers the questions they ask. Who of us adults can forget the time one of our parents took us aside to talk about “that” subject, and how we didn’t have a clue; or it was quite old hat anyway!

     Rather, training children where they are at is a more useful thing to do. That means you promote an environment where they feel free to talk about different subjects. And this recognises that children, even though they are the same age, can yet be at a different stage.


     We move on now further with the text. We come to the next phrase in our text, “…even when he is old…” In the words of a second aspect to this verse, we note, EACH CHILD FOLLOWS THEIR PARENT’S WAY.

     Despite what our young people like to think - and sometimes they say it too! – they will turn out to be a lot like Mum and Dad. And not only in their looks!

     There is a haunting song from the 1970’s called “Cat’s in the Cradle”. In it Harry Chapin sings of the stages in the life of a father with his son. And there is this constant refrain, already from when that boy begins to talk: “I’m gonna be just like you Dad, I’m gonna be just like you.” But this father doesn’t have the time to spend with his son.

     The song goes through the stages of a ten-year-old boy and being a Uni student. The son himself becomes a father. But he too is busy and just can’t find the time to get together. And, then, finally, the father realises, “He’d grown up just like me; my boy was just like me.”


     Congregation, our lives are very powerful forces for good or bad. As parents we have in our hands the most potent influence for the future of our children. So what will it be for your child?

     It is for a reason that in Leviticus 24, verse 11, a blaspheming boy’s family background is mentioned. It is for a reason that his mother’s name was quoted. For the way we bring up our children has a consequence – one way or the other. The time we spend or don’t spend with them now, and how we spend that time with them, has an effect on so much time in their future. And that’s for grandparents too!

     This is why we saw the positive picture of Timothy from Paul’s second letter to him. Notice, he too was from a kind of mixed marriage – his mother was the believer – but see what impact that had for his eternal good!

     The apostle even begins that passage with writing, in chapter 1, verse 3, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors…” He draws in the value of a godly heritage, of a parentage which is positive. And after speaking of wanting to see Timothy again, he says in verse 5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”

     Why were those women like that? How could they be motivated to be that way? Paul tells us, with his own example, “…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:12).

     Dear friends, this is truly, ‘Like Father, like Son,’ for spiritually God himself is the one we learn from in faith. And it is God himself who we relate to our children, because we have related to him ourselves first of all!


     In this way we come to a third aspect in this verse. Here we note … THAT’S WHY WE GO THE LORD’S WAY.

     You see, then ‘Like Father, like Son’ is even truer for it is Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, who has brought us into the way of all blessing! The text is true in its conclusion, “…he will not depart from it.”

     Congregation, don’t think that this automatically means all our children will be saved. It is, as the text says, as the child goes in the way the Lord has assigned for him personally, that will be the determining factor. If they choose otherwise, that lies with them. But it doesn’t change God’s promise to believers and their families. And it doesn’t take away one iota from what is our children’s as they walk in his way!

     The same fourth verse in Ephesians 6, which spoke about not exasperating our children, also says, “…instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” You can no more separate yourself from modelling Christ to your child than you can live without a heart. It’s impossible!


     Someone fifty years ago warned, “Our homes are in grave danger today … because they are surrounded by all the destructive powers of a dreadfully secular world. Many of those outside agencies which take children away from their homes are neither neutral or impervious to the claims of the Christian faith. They are products of a secular culture.

     “And they are leaving their mark upon our homes. In many cases they are coming between God and the home. And in others they have already taken his place.”

     The only answer, he says, is this: “We must have home-grown children, trained in the fear of God according to his Word. They must learn the way of the Christian faith at home, and then when they grow older they won’t depart from it. There will be exceptions to that rule, of course, but the very fact that they are exceptions proves the rule. No other institution on earth can give us such home-grown children who walk the way of the Lord, and therefore no other institution is quite so important to our civilisation as the true Christian home.”

     It’s true – isn’t it? Charity begins at home. And charity is simply the old word for love – Christian love.

     Congregation, one poet pictured it well:

          So long as there are homes to which men turn

              at close of day;

          So long as there are homes where children are,

          Where women stay –

          If love and truth and Christian faith be found

          Across those sills –

          A stricken nation can recover from

          Its gravest ills.


          So long as there are homes where fires burn

          And where there is bread;

          So long as there are homes

              where Christ will fit

          And prayers are said;

          Although people falter through the dark –

          And nations grope –

          With God himself inside these little homes –

          We have sure hope.


     Congregation, let’s pray and work that this will be so!






Let’s pray…


     O Lord Jesus, you who is the unseen Guest in our homes; you the One who has transformed our lives so that you do live in our homes; dearest Saviour, please bless us in your way again. May we turn to you and, through our example, may our children turn to you too, and not turn from you. Because of your sacrifice we plead, Amen.





* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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