In the early seventies, Peter, Paul, and Mary made famous their song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” The conclusion of the song was “Oh, when will they ever learn, Oh, when will they ever learn?” (A couple of weeks ago, Peter and Paul appeared at the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Speech, I Have a Dream.)
The conclusion of that song has always stuck with me. I have been in situations in which I received papers that were poorly written and I asked, “Oh, when will they ever learn grammar?” Or, I was in a restaurant a couple of months ago and I almost gave $5 to the waitress to go and to ask the person sitting across from me who never learned to use an inside voice to speak more quietly. I did not need to learn about his weekly activities, and I thought to myself, “Oh when will they ever learn to speak quietly?”
I remember when I tried to bargain with (bribe) my sisters to do the dinner dishes. My Mother mentioned that she wants my wife to be able to say, “Your Mother has taught you something!” Therefore, she insisted on my doing the dinner dishes and learning how to wash my clothes and iron them. There was no dichotomy of labor in our house – we learned to do the things needed to be done and we did them.
Apostle Paul writes to Timothy “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1Timothy 4:8).” In Proverbs we have the same concept, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it (Proverbs 26:6).”
It seems that more than anything else what has emptied our Sunday School classes of children has been the physical training – the desire for our children to be involved in more sports. As Pastor, I listen to the parents whose children are involved in so many sports, that they almost need to hire a driver to take them to all of these places. Together with the Apostle Paul, I believe that physical training is of some value and I would even add of some major value.
My overarching concern is the absence of training for godliness. Have our children learned about God, have they encountered God, are they able to discern the voice of God from all other voices that they are hearing in this world?
In the fifth book of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy the consistent emphasis is for parents, primarily the fathers to teach their children the laws and the commandments of God. (Deuteronomy 4:9-10 & 14, 5:31, 6:1&7, 11:19) Jesus Christ himself tells us, “He who loves me, keeps my commandments (John 14:15)”.
The Sunday School classes in our churches encourage the parents of our community to teach their children the Word of God and also encourages them to bring their children to the Sunday School where can they learn more about God. To the question, “Oh, when/where will they ever learn?”, may we be able to answer that our children are learning about God and His commandments from us their parents and from the churches where we worship so that the godliness they will develop will benefit them not only for this life, but for all eternity.