The Back Page – Children

The Back Page


Old Testament people valued children. After Adam abandoned innocence and was exiled from
Eden, Eve exultantly exclaimed, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of Yahweh!” Abram plaintively
asked, “What will you give me, since I am childless?” Rachel remonstrated, “Give me children, or else I
die.” Strong sentiments indeed. King David took it too far when he wailed, “O my son Absalom, my son,
my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” In the New Testament,
God resembles a father who cuts short his contrite kid’s confession to kill for him the fattened calf.
By what means was Yahweh to redeem Israel? “Unto us a child is born.” The young sometimes
serve as examples for the old: “Unless you repent and become like little children you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven.”
Spiritual blindness sometimes prompts adults to devalue their children. Israelites were not above
incinerating their sons in idol worship; women ate their infants during sieges.
But spiritual blindness can also lead to the opposite error. Some parents and grandparents all but
worship their offspring. Some equate loving children with granting their every whim, forgetting that
“folly is bound up in a child’s heart.” The best way to drive out such folly is with “the rod of discipline.”
“Do not hold back discipline from a child,” but by using it “rescue his soul from she’ôl.”  Adults
demonstrate their own inner emptiness when they try to live vicariously through their children.
We love our children and grandchildren best when we “bring them up in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord,” diligently teaching them God’s word “when we sit in the house and walk by the way.” Great
things can happen when we start this process early —from infancy Timothy knew the sacred scriptures. A
man’s fitness to serve the Lord is determined in part by how well he has led his family.
Real men, real women, real churches, real societies, love their kids. But they do not necessarily
practice their love in ways current culture counsels, but instead as the Bible directs.

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