Summary: dealing with conflict biblically
"The Blessings of Children"
October 26, 1997
I can’t help thinking this morning about the story of the man who was having a new sidewalk put in. His neighbor had two young, inquisitive boys, who always seemed to get into trouble. Well, sure enough, they managed to find the wet cement and left their indelible impression there. The man went over to his neighbor and brought him out to see the handiwork of his boys. When he saw what his boys had done, the neighbor said, "Well, they’re just children. Don’t you like children?" To which the homeowner replied, "Yes, I like children in the abstract, but not in the concrete!"
This morning, if you’re a parent, I’m sure you know the feeling very well. Having children has taught me many new things about myself, not the least of which is my low frustration level. It seems few things bring us as much joy, and as much frustration, as our children. This morning we want to look at the gospel of Matthew to see what Jesus had to say about children. Turn with me to Matthew 18.
Read Text: Matthew 18:1-10
We can see from this passage that Jesus placed children in a very high regard. He was very aware of
I. The Blessings of Having Children - Psalms 127:3-5
Children are a heritage from the LORD, they are a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
As we talk about children, let’s start by affirming that children are a special gift from God. That’s why when we had our daughter we called her "Jacqueline," for that name means "a gift from God."
A. Children are viewed as an "inheritance, a portion, a special share."
One of the key ways of showing the esteem and regard you have for someone is by passing on to them an inheritance. Sometimes much tension and division is produced in families, because one child received a larger share than the brothers or sisters. God tells us that children are our true inheritance.
B. A family with many children is blessed by God.
Many people today are more concerned with the "convenience" of their children than the blessing of their children. God never said children would be "convenient," but he did say that they would be a source of joy and blessing.
Children truly are a blessing from God. But, along with the blessing of having children comes certain responsibilities.
II. The Duties of Raising Children -
A. It is the responsibility of the parent to train the child.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
We cannot get away from the fact that the responsibility for teaching our children the way of the Lord falls upon us, as parents. We cannot just "send our kids to Sunday School." It’s not enough to let them learn about God from their teacher at church. Our daily lives must be permeated with the truth of God. If we say we believe on Sunday, but deny it by the way we live our lives from Monday through Saturday, we come into great danger of driving our kids far from God. We pass on the message that our religion is something "convenient," something to make a good appearance before others. How good of a job do we do at passing on our values to our children?
B. The future of the child is determined by the training given in the present.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Traditionally we have looked on this verse as a promise, that if we teach our children about the Lord, they will believe all the rest of their lives. There may be another interpretation of this verse. Another rendering of the original text is
"Train up a child according to his way."
This might mean that as we raise our children we determine their identity, their personality, and we seek to develop their potential to the fullest. If your child is meant to be a concert pianist, chances are they may not enjoy working on engines. If your child has a natural gift of socializing and talking to others, don’t make them keep silent whenever you are at someone else’s house. Let’s foster, encourage, and promote the growth of our child’s unique, God-given identity.