The proper education of children has always been a concern of Christians. It should not, therefore, surprise us to find a pastor in Constantinople in the late fourth century preaching about the importance of educating children rightly. The pastor was John Chrysostom, and he was constantly urging the parents of his congregation not merely to take forethought for the earthly well-being of their children, but to educate them in such a way as to provide for their eternal salvation. “Chrysostom” was a nickname, by the way. It means “golden mouth” in Greek, and he received that moniker because of his excellent rhetorical abilities. You never have to wonder what he’s thinking, but even when he seems blunt, his words are pleasantly put. Chrysostom preached the following as he expounded Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”:
“How long are we going to be mere flesh? How long are we going to hunch over the earth? Let all things stand in the second place for us when compared with taking forethought for our children and bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. If he learns to be a lover of wisdom from the first, he has acquired riches greater than all riches and a mightier glory. You will accomplish nothing so great by teaching him a craft, and the outward training through which he will acquire possessions, than if you teach him a craft through which he will despise possessions. If you want to make him rich, do it like that. For the rich man is not he who binds himself with many possessions and surrounds himself with many things, but he who has need of nothing.
“Discipline your son in this, teach him this – this is the greatest wealth. Do not seek how you will make him renowned in outward lessons and make him glorious, but consider how you will teach him to despise the glory that is in this life. Thence he would become more radiant and more glorious. These things are possible both for the poor man and the rich man to do. One does not learn these things from a teacher, nor through craft, but through the divine sayings. Do not seek how he will live a long life here, but how he will live a boundless and endless life there. Give him the great things, not the little things.”
(Ephesians, Homily XXI)
I love that line, “Give him the great things, not the little things.” Our flesh too easily inclines to the things of this earth, as if they’re the only things that matter or exist. But those are the little things. The great things are the Word of God, faith in Christ, and living a virtuous life according to God’s commandments. Education at Mount Hope revolves around the great things. As you seek to bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, we are pleased to assist you.
P.S. You can read Chrysostom’s whole sermon on Ephesians 6:1-4 here.