Why Are Children Special?
People have a tendency to take the wonderful and amazing qualities of children for granted. Jesus did not take this stance. He said, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” There are qualities that children possess which should be cherished and even emulated.
In our culture it is not vogue to be sincere. Nietzsche is not my favorite philosopher, but he said something that I often have cause to recall:
A joke is an epitaph on the death of a feeling. – Friedrich Nietzsche
About the time the conversation gets really genuine and sincere, someone often gets uncomfortable and makes a joke, which dissipates the deep feelings that have accumulated. I wish that were not so, because I crave sincerity. I crave those times when I can sit down with a person or a group of people and have completely genuine and heartfelt council on important topics such as faith or politics. It has been said that religion and politics should not be discussed in polite conversation, but, when you stop and think about it, the importance of those two subjects is so great as to eclipse most others.
Young children, while unable to converse at this level, do not have the cultural stop that keeps us from being genuine.
The other day someone came to pick something up that I had posted on a garage sale site. My daughter always greets and charms them with her openness and cuteness. Just before he left she tried to tell him the name of our dog, Bear. He did not hear her and so left without replying. She turned to me and whimpered a bit and informed me tearfully that she was trying to tell him about Bear.
Of course, a display like this in an adult would show a lack of maturity. However, imagine a world where, when you hurt someone’s feelings, without any semblance of pride or spite, he or she would tell you about it in a completely sincere attempt to clear things up. Wouldn’t you rather that happen instead of spending your life with that between you and your friend, and you not even realizing it? But we are afraid to be that genuine because of pride and cultural stops on both sides of the relationship. We are afraid to make ourselves vulnerable.
Truly speaking from your heart has an inherent element of vulnerability in it, as we are revealing ourselves at a deeper level than what our comfort zone might dictate. I love to speak with people who love to talk sincerely about the things that deserve sincerity. To me that means the things of eternal value, such as the kingdom of heaven and the word of God.
We should be loving each other and expressing that love sincerely, but pride gets in the way, which in turn diminishes the potential depth of our relationships.
2. Receiving Reproof
While it may take a while to train a child, young children are generally able to receive reproof over and over again without excessive pride. Admittedly, this may not be true with someone other than their parents, and I consider this unfortunate. It may be a result of parental discouragement of reproof from outside sources. I hope to instill in my children the fact that if someone reproves them unto righteousness, the reproof should always be heeded regardless of the source.
The Scripture says, “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.” It also says, “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.” The ability to humbly receive reproof is a great virtue, and children seemingly possess it in better measure.
In order to cultivate personal growth, family betterment, and humility, there is a section in our family vision statement called, “Culture of Reproof”. The idea is to develop a family culture where reproof is both given and received gracefully—over and over again.
If, for example, the shower curtain is left open (encourages buildup and mold on the bottom of the shower liner), tell the offender in a gracious and meek way. If it happens again, tell him again. If it happens again, tell him again, and so on, being gracious and meek each time. In this way, reproof is made a way of life, as opposed to being a burdensome nuisance. Natural, as opposed to wearisome. A benefit, as opposed to an instigator of contention.
The character trait that we call “innocence” as manifested in children is the state of having no knowledge between good and evil (Deuteronomy 1:39). In this way, they are closer than we are to the condition into which man was created by God. Is it any wonder that they are such a joy sometimes? That joy is, perhaps, a taste of Eden that God has left us with.
Children have a way of turning boys into men. They have a way of inspiring a significant increase in maturity, responsibility, productivity, vision, achievement, and marital/familial bonds. How amazing! How could we take that for granted? And they do all of this without trying! Rather, the effect that they have upon a father (or mother) is simply a result of their relationship with that parent.
How that bespeaks the Christian life! It is only through our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Everlasting Father, that we are able to do anything good. (I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5) The newborn baby can do nothing, but through his relationship to his father he is part of his father’s achievements and good works, in part because he inspired that father to do them.
It was not, by and large, the wise and powerful that believed in Jesus, but the unlearned. Many of the men who changed the world as missionaries of Christ were like children in comparison to their counterparts in other religions. When the priests rebuked the children in the temple for singing Christ’s praises, He in turn rebuked the priests, saying, “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” The faith of children is an inspiration to us all.
And while they may not be able to achieve as much, they can be a reason for achievement. Can we be a reason for achievement? Can we inspire someone to passion? Christ is the ultimate reason for passion, and yet we are called to be lights under His great light—a city on a hill. Can we inspire someone to love Him, and to love others as He loved?
In general, a child has a very high level of confidence in his or her parents. It is probably this quality that is most important to the Christian comparison. Without confidence in God we cannot be steadfast. Without trust in Him we cannot be trustworthy. Without faith in Him we cannot be faithful.
Ever hear the expression “sleeping like a baby”? This brings to mind a deep, peaceful sleep. Yet the Christian can achieve lasting peace even while awake if he believes the promises of God like a child.
Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Until we believe every word of God, we will be unable to “see”, or understand, the spiritual kingdom of God as clearly as we ought. An indifferent, detached theologian who is going about trying to understand Christianity as just another religion will never truly understand it no matter how much he learns about it. As Paul put it, the things of the Spirit of God are spiritually understood. And he that is spiritual must be born that way, which means that he begins as a child: with complete faith and dependence on the God who birthed Him.
Deu 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
Why fear Satan and his devices or any of the circumstances of life when we truly allow ourselves to be lifted by the everlasting arms, safe in knowing that every word that our Father says is true?
If we could only, as the apostle Paul said, “put off childish things”, yet retain these precious qualities that children possess.