“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” – Ps. 127:3.
If I am out with my children, I am most likely to hear someone say that they are just “darlin'” or “precious” or just about any other sweet thing you could say about children. They both have winning personalities and dazzling smiles, and they seem to be able to charm the elderly by just simply glancing their way. In fact, we were once at a fast food restaurant, where an elderly lady approached our table and asked me if it would be all right if she spoiled my children! Then she promptly gave both of them a dollar!
I admit, my children can be quite charming and funny, and I personally think they are quite beautiful. But I also know their dark side. I have seen the temper tantrums, endured the sibling rivalry, heard the slamming of the bedroom door. I have had messes to clean up in the bathroom made by my daughter’s determination to have a “tea party” without my permission. I have had to re-roll the toilet paper after my son has spent a moment enjoying the way it easily rolls with the turn of his hand. I have had toys thrown at my head, scraped food off the walls, and put the whole family in time-out before we all lose our cool!
So where are those “darlin’, precious” children? Those comments usually come moments after I have had to scold them for knocking items off the shelf, broken up a fight over snacks, or threatened to leave the store and all hopes of ever having food in the house again behind.
Every day is a roller coaster day with children involved. They can be happy and easy to get along with one moment and then suddenly lash out in rebellion the next. As recently as when I was a child, it was considered quite acceptable to discipline your children and to expect them to be hard workers. But now the norm seems to be to indulge the children and give them whatever they want in order to make them happy. After all, they are just innocent, little angels, and this is “just a phase.” They can’t help it!
Here’s the hard truth. Are you ready for it? I’m pretty confident you’re not going to like it, but these are God’s words, not mine:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Rom. 3:23.
When I read this verse, I can’t help but realize that children are part of the “all.” When a new baby is born, that baby is already a sinner. They were born a sinner and are in need of a Savior. Now I personally believe that our God is a merciful God, and I believe that if He chooses to take a baby or young child off this earth that they go to heaven to be with Him (not to hell, as many religions believe). He is a God of compassion, and He does not expect more of us than we can give Him.
But what it does mean is that a baby can have sinful actions. Remember those late nights when you couldn’t figure out how to console your fed, changed, howling infant? That was their first expression of their sinful nature. A toddler goes through the “Terrible Twos” because they are a sinner. My four-year-old slams her door when she doesn’t get her way because she needs Christ.
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” – Prov. 22:15.
Sin resides in our children’s hearts. Yes, there are sins that are common at a certain age, but that doesn’t make it okay. What’s that old parental question – “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?” Sin often pulls others in with it. Someone involved in sin loves nothing more than having other people validate what they are doing by partaking in the same sin – even children need this validation!
The good news is that our children don’t have to remain in their sin! God has made a way for them to escape if they are directed to the One who can set them free.
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake” – I John 2:12.
I have seen a lot of parents, especially Christian parents, these days who seem to ignore the fact that their children are sinning. Many people take on a passive approach, avoiding confrontation with their children at all costs, hoping to just keep the peace. But here’s my question – if our children aren’t sinners, then at what age do they suddenly need a Savior? What’s the magical age that a person can no longer act any way that they want to and are expected to behave like a productive individual? When does Christ become a need for our kids?
One of my biggest pet peeves is to hear someone say that my children are angels. They’re not angels. Perhaps I’m being a bit petty about this statement, but I don’t want my children going through life thinking that they can do no wrong. After all, if they are already perfect, then why would they need God?
Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”
What?! Discipline will make my children delightful? I’m not saying that if you start disciplining your children that they will suddenly see the light, and you will never have to battle with them again. Trust me – it’s a daily battle! But we have all sinned and need the grace of God! Why would we keep that a secret from our kids? Our kids want limits, and they can enjoy life more if they realize we care enough about them to set those limits.
So here’s my challenge – before you evangelize your neighborhood, take a look inside your own home. What are you doing to evangelize your own children? Do they know that they need a Savior, or are they living in a dream world where they are the star? Take them down off of that pedestal and set their eyes on Christ.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whomyou learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” – II Tim. 3:14-17.
What are you doing to equip your children for good?