How do you judge someone's character - especially that of a child? There are those who say that we should never judge anyone - but that statement is fraught with problems. How do you train up a child to be an asset to society rather than a liability? There must be a way to do this - to make sure that your children grow up and take upon themselves the responsibilities of being a valuable adult. Once again God's wisdom takes center stage on this issue.
A child is distinguished by his deeds - by what he does. The idea here is that you can investigate and come to a knowledge of just who a child is by looking at his deeds. There are those who would have us award all children the same - as if giving everyone an equal reward will someone make the world a place without competition. The problem with such a plan - of giving trophies to everyone - of handing out ribbons to all participants - of not choosing a validictorian because of how it will make the other children feel - is that this will bring all to the same low level. It is by his actions and deeds that a child distinguishes himself. Raising a child to be what they should be in God's eyes - means setting the bar at the level that God sets it. It means calling him to excellence.
The excellence the world seeks in in skill and ability. It is true that even God's Word speaks of how a man who is excellent in his field will be rewarded. But what we are examining in this proverb is how to raise a man or woman of character. The lad distinguishes himself by his deeds is true - but what kind of deeds? Conduct that is pure and right. Too often we spend our time trying to train a child in a sport or field of endeavor without tending to his moral training. What a child needs is character. He needs to know what is pure and right. There is the first way in which God's wisdom will run into a road block set up by the world. The world says there is no way that we can definitively determine and establish right and wrong. Each man's wisdom is his own thinking. That is how we got to the ignoble ending of the book of Judges. A child needs is to be trained that God's Word is what determines what is pure and right. Then the child needs to be trained in how to walk in this world in a way that pleases and honors the Lord. Oh, what a blessing such a child is to the world around him when he or she is trained in this manner. Oh, what blessings will surround and flow forth from such a child.
We would do well not to turn to Dr. Spock when training our children, or for that matter to anyone who contradicts what the wisdom of God says. Instead, we need to train our children in the ways of the Lord and watch as they distinguish themselves from the rest of the world - and become the conduit through which the world around them is blessed!