On Children part 1

I thought I might share a parenting lesson I have learned that, well, just might blow your mind. 

Parenting…(wait for it)…has a lot to do with children.

I know that may be a little bit shocking for you.  Maybe you need to take a deep breath.

Actually I am guessing you are hoping the rest of what I am going to say gets a little bit deeper than this. 

But stick with me. 

Because there may be more to this than you at first think. If parenting has a lot to do with children, it makes sense that if you are going to be a good parent, you need to know a little something about them.

I mean, imagine trying to be a mechanic without knowing much about cars.  It is going to be a problem, unless you are willing to learn more about them.  Quick. 

When it comes to parenting the problem is even worse. It is not just that many of us don’t know much about children, it is that many of us actually have a wrong perspective on them.

I am convinced that so many of the problems people have in parenting have to do with the fact that they don’t have a biblical perspective on their children.  So before we dive too deep in discussing parenting, what I want to do in the next several posts is go back to the basics and consider some of the fundamental truths the Bible teaches us about them.

Children are a blessing

I felt like we needed to start here because we live in a world that places a pretty low value on children. 

If you doubt me on that just think about abortion. Abortion is certainly an indicator that we don’t value children very much.  After all, consider this.  We are willing to kill them when they are not convenient for us. Many people in the Western world view children as a burden and think so little of children that murdering them is a right they’ll actually fight for.

This is sad, tragic actually but it is nothing new.

I recently finished reading a book where the author looks at the early days of Christianity and shows that in the Roman world of that time, children were basically dispensable.

Most men did not want the burden of families and acted accordingly.  Many avoided having families by sleeping with prostitutes instead of their wives.  If somehow their wives did fall pregnant, they often forced them to have an abortion or they would abandon the child to die after it was born.  In fact, both Plato and Aristotle promoted abortion and attempted to make a case for it.

Which sounds a little like the world I come from.  In the Western world people do not place a high value on having children.

One proof of that is the fact that, “fertility rates have been falling across the globe for 40 years, to the point where, today, Israel is the only First World country where women have enough babies to sustain their population.”  And surprisingly as one author explains, “The developing world is actually heading in the same direction, fast. Only 3 percent of the world’s population lives in a country where the fertility rate is not dropping.”

This is pretty shocking and the reason I bring it up is because it shows the low value placed on children. Usually what we value we want to have a lot of and the fact that we don’t want to have many children seems to indicate we don’t really value children all that much.

My wife and I are often reminded of people’s views on having children when we tell people we have nine. In fact an older lady came up to my wife not too long ago and said, “Aren’t you the lady with all those kids?”  My wife smiled, and said, “Yes.”  To which the woman responded, “I am so sorry for you.”

Fortunately, God’s attitude towards children is much different than the world’s. The Bible views children as gifts from God of the highest value.

We see how important children and families are to God in the very first command in the very first chapter in the entire Bible; which is “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” We see what value God places on children in passages of Scripture like Psalm 127 and 128 where the Psalmist says that children are a blessing from God Himself.  We get an idea of how great a blessing when read of stories in the Bible like Abraham’s.   

If you know anything about Abraham, you know that he was a very wealthy man.  God Himself appeared to Abraham and entered into a special relationship with him.  These are awesome privileges and yet when God declared that He would be Abraham’s great reward, you know how Abraham responded to God?  He responded by saying to God, “What will you give me, since I go childless?” 

Despite all his riches and the privilege of this relationship with God, Abraham felt he was poor because he lacked children and the big exciting part of the blessing that God promised to Him (apart from redemption and salvation of course)   was children and grandchildren.

It is simply not normal biblically to look at children as a curse or a bother. 

In fact, I will even take this a step further. 

There are some who see children as a blessing in theory, they are glad when children are born, but they look at children as a burden in practice, in other words they don’t like when children are around and don’t really want to spend time with them. 

I serve in Africa. 

I have found there are many in Africa who seem to think that it is a white man’s thing or a woman’s thing to play with children or to enjoy being with children. Important people, distinguished people, powerful people don’t get close with their children, they stay reserved and don’t really relate to them.

I will tell you this.  Let me try to be straight. That is a lie.  And I can say it is a lie because when God became man that was not His attitude.  You are not more important than God, no one is, and yet when God became man, what did He have to say to his disciples, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them!”  Children were not afraid to approach Jesus.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus and children is in Mark 9:33-37 where Jesus comes to the disciples and asks them what they were arguing about as they had been walking to Capernaum.  They didn’t want to say because they were arguing about who was the greatest.  And you know what Jesus does?  Jesus sits down and tells them that if they are going to be great they must be a servant, he says they must be the servant of all and after saying that you know what he does?  Verse 36.  He takes a child and puts him the middle of the disciples and then he picks up the child and takes him in his arms, Mark says, and he tells the disciples that whoever receives a child like this in his name receives him, which tells us that to God, the truly great man is someone who is so humble that he is willing to care and love children for Christ’s sake. 

Children are a blessing from God and we honor God by caring for children in His name. 

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