Suffer Little Children
The raising of children is of tremendous importance. They will form the society of the future and although we may not appreciate it that society is being shaped now. What it will be like depends largely on the views and values those who will belong to it adopt in their formative years; that in turn depends on the instruction they are given.
There are all sorts of ideas as to how children should be brought up. The truth is that in this matter, as in everything of significance, we are not left to our own devices. The raising of children is one of those “good works” for which the Scriptures have been given to equip us (2Tim.3:15,16). If we are wise we will consider what they have to say.
The first question which must be settled is this: To whom do children belong? Parents will of course reply, “They belong to us!” We also find the state increasingly asserting an ownership over the young. In one sense however neither is correct. The Bible says that first and foremost children belong to God. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psa.127:3). Sons and daughters are precious gifts from God which are loaned to their parents for a season that they may prepare them to serve Him in their adult lives.
Some parents think that their children must be given a free rein and allowed to decide every issue in life for themselves. They train up their children in the way they would go – which is sadly the way of sin. Other parents think that their children must be pushed into whatever walk of life will bring them the most ‘success’. They train up their children in the way they could go – which is sadly the way of the world.
When we turn to the Word of God we find that it says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov.22:6). The right way is the one described by Micah: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic.6:8). The chief aim of every parent in raising their child ought to be that he or she would be converted and become a faithful believer.
To this end the Bible instructs parents, particularly fathers, to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph.6:4). The minds of the young must be fed and their morals shaped by the Word of God. Parents are to ensure that this is carried out in a consistent manner in home, school and church.
The great need for all boys and girls, just as for adults, is to come to Christ for salvation. Children are sinners too. How encouraging then that Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16)! Parents bring their children to Christ not merely by having them baptised but by instructing them faithfully, chastising them lovingly, praying for them diligently and showing them a godly example. It is a great task and much grace is needed to fulfil it. Yet the Lord gives help to those who seek it.
Parents should follow the example of David with his own sons and daughters: “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psa.34:11). To do so will bring blessing to the family, to the church and to the nation.