Key Texts: Proverbs 22:6, Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17.
If we want to raise our children with the best possible upbringing and standards, we must take spiritual parenting seriously. Whether we are parents or grand-parents, matters not, because a child’s memory is forming better in childhood, than for the rest of his or her entire life. A parent or grand-parent’s actions and words can leave a life-long impression on children, so make sure it is a spiritual impression and not just a physical one.
Any event repeatedly recorded by the Holy Spirit insures that we get the message of importance in what Jesus is doing when He blesses the little children. Jesus hugged the children and laid hands on them, blessing them. Jesus asked for the parents to come back after his disciples sent them away, thinking it was unimportant, so let us treat this subject with the same importance as Jesus does. What exactly is Jesus doing here in blessing the children? It included prayer. Is there a difference between Jesus praying for children, and us praying for children? Mt. 19:13
THE PARENTS: There is a loveliness in Jesus Christ that anyone could see. It is easy to think of these mothers in Palestine feeling that the touch of a man like that on their children’s heads and his prayers would bring a blessing, even if they did not understand why. But it was an early custom for Jewish mothers to bring babies entering into their first birthday to Rabbis and ask for prayers and blessings. The Jews didn’t observe birthdays, but this custom was the closest thing to it. Note: Jesus called both the parents and children, Luke 18:16.
THE DISCIPLES: Jesus was angry at his disciples for talking sternly to the mothers, he might have been angry at one of two things: Either they were too impatient and over-protective of his welfare. OR, they were lacking in grace & knowledge as to the importance of the mother’s requests. A REQUEST for prayer should never, never be denied. There is a spiritual need being sought for, God wants it filled and the disciples were actively working against his will, so the next time we hear someone ask, “PRAY FOR ME”, we had better count ourselves obliged to do so, or we are working against God’s will.
THE CHILDREN: “Of such,” said Jesus “is the Kingdom of God.” What is it about the child that Jesus liked and valued so much? There are at least five attributes of children we should remember and restore in ourselves.
There is the child’s humility. Ordinarily children are embarrassed by prominence and publicity. Little children are not born to think in terms of pride, position and prestige. They have not yet learned to discover the importance of self. Mat. 18:3-4. But sometime sooner or later, children become exhibitionists, this is always the product of misguided adult treatment, and it sadly and usually starts early, from untrained and unwise parents.
There is the child’s trust. A child’s trust is also seen in the child’s confidence in other people. He does not expect any person to be bad. He will make friends with a perfect stranger. A great man once said that the greatest compliment ever paid him was when a little boy came up to him, a complete stranger, and asked him to tie his shoe lace. The child has not yet learned to suspect the world. He still believes the best about others. Sometimes that very trust leads him into danger, for there are those who are totally unworthy of it and who abuse it, but that trust is a lovely attribute. Can we have this kind of trust with our fellow Christian brothers & sisters? Php 4:1-3, 1st Cor. 16:3.
The child’s sense of wonder: The British Poet Tennyson in 1880, tells of going early one morning into the bedroom of his little grandson and seeing the child “worshipping the sunbeam playing on the bedpost.” As we grow older we begin to live in a world which has grown grey and tired. Little children live in a world with a sheen on it, wherein God is always near. We should remember our Creator has a sense of imagination and humour in His creation, you can see it in the many colours of flowers and in the weird shapes of animals, just a glance at a monkey or ant-eater can bring a smile, imagination and creativity to a child. Jesus saw great glory in flowers, Mat. 6:28-30,! By all means, put away childish (foolish) things as Paul did, as when he became a man, but do not forsake God’s gifts of beauty, praise, glory and creativity, He made us in His image, Gen. 1:26, which includes the ability to create!
The child has an innate desire to imitate their parents. This is commanded of Christians, “Be holy, for I am holy”, 1Peter 1:16. Little children are always trying to wear Mothers shoes, or use Fathers tools, their inclination to imitate their parents is indicative of the way Christians ought to try and imitate our Heavenly Father. He is holy, so lets live our lives as pure as we can, and set our life apart for a godly purpose, so that our children’s appetite for a spiritual life will grow.
KNOW YOUR CHILD’S NEEDS:1. Confident Compassion. Showing children you love them and encourage them in truth. 1John 4:7, Mark 10:16, Colossians 3:21, 1st Corinthians 13:7.
2. Consistent Counsel. Being prepared to always offer advice without shoving it down their throat. Deuteronomy 6:7, Psalm 145:13, Proverbs 24:3, Matthew 28:18-20
3. Correction & Challenges. When appropriate, being able to prove the consequences of disobedience, and set them goals for a reward. Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 19:18, Luke 16:10, Ephesians 4:29.
4. Commemorative Celebration. Ecclesiastes 11:7- 12:1. Have your children remember good things (blessings) from God and praise Him for them! Philippians 4:4