But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14, NKJV)
Protecting the innocent lives of children has not always been the norm in this cruel world. About the time Jesus lived, an Egyptian named Hilarion wrote a letter from Alexandria to his wife, Alis. He wrote of his trip and of his possible delay returning home. He promised to send money as soon as he was paid. Then he wrote, “If you happen to be pregnant again, if it is a boy, leave it; if it is a girl, throw it out” (sententiaeantiquae.com). We recoil in horror at the thought of killing a newborn child, yet, there are modern parallels. When China imposed its “one child” policy from 1979 to 2015 (now, the Chinese government allows two children), untold numbers of babies were aborted (often, forcibly). Firstborn girls were often abandoned as liabilities – People wanted sons. Legalized abortion in America and around the world killed over 41 million children in 2018 (worldmeters.info). Shocking! Then there are the crimes of child pornography and child trafficking that bring untold misery and suffering upon children and on all those affected by these terrible sins. Jesus valued and protected children. Parents must value and protect their children. Governments must value and protect children. The gospel of Christ has greatly improved the lives of children through the ages. There is still much to do for the children. Each one of us can do our part to bring the children to Jesus. The question is, are we? (Jas. 1:27)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1–3, NKJV)
Dr. Leonard Sax, practicing physician and author of “The Collapse of Parenting,” wrote in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 17, 2015), “Kids are not born knowing how to be respectful. They have to be taught.” He tells of his patient Kyle, who “was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.” One source of such disrespect comes from devaluing parents. According to Dr. Sax, “America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’” Parents, train your children to respect you by being respectful to one another, and to others. Train them to honor you by placing value on God, on faith, and on every human being. Children can only be respectful by learning it. So, be respectable – especially when the culture does not value it – or you.
6 “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (Hebrews 12:6–8, NKJV)
The word “chasten” means discipline, and this passage leaves no doubt that properly applied discipline (instruction and correction) includes momentary pain which is intended to yield positive results (Hebrews 12:6, 9-11). The rod of discipline is not a rod of abuse (although that is how the world portrays it). Just as the world resists the Lord’s corrective discipline (although it beneficial), it also resists God’s word that teaches parents to use it as one aspect of training their children. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Children need training to mature properly. To discipline them is a mark of parental love. To withhold needed discipline from a child is not love. The child who refuses and despises parental discipline is rebellious. The Christian who refuses and despises God’s discipline is also rebellious. Thus, we are exhorted to “be in subjection” to our Father’s discipline so we may partake of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. (Matthew 19:13–15, NKJV)
Children provide a beautiful portrait of those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs. Children are open, honest and enthusiastic. They are trusting, humble and innocent. So, it is not surprising that Jesus said unless we are “converted and become as little children” we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). Yet, here we find His disciples rebuking people for bringing children to Jesus for His blessing. With a gentle reminder Jesus reinforced that we must never hinder those who come to Him for His blessing. Just as Jesus readily received the children, God readily receives every sinner who comes to Him with a child’s heart of faith, anxious to please Him with humble conversion and obedience (Acts 3:19; Matthew 7:21). It is completely out of character for a Christian to become a stumbling block to someone seeking Christ’s blessing (Matthew 18:4-6). Let us be sure we are always helping people come to Christ and never hindering them.
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15, NKJV)
While God has always exalted motherhood, it is not held in the high esteem it once was. It has taken a severe hit due to the rise of feminism, and its unisex agenda. However, the facts continue to bear out what common sense tells us: The interaction of a mother with her child is crucial to the child’s development. Wall Street Journal journalist James Taranto recently reported on the findings of New York psychoanalyst Erica Komisar: “Mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” says Komisar, in her book, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters” (“The Politicization of Motherhood,” James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2017). Citing neuroscientist Nim Tottenham, of Columbia University, Komisar notes “that babies are born without a central nervous system,” and that “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth” (Ibid). Mothers help their children learn to interact with their world. You have a work that only you are equipped to accomplish. Young mother, do not be discouraged when the world disparages you for doing your work. You are doing God’s work, and you and your child are blessed for it.
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another… (1 John 3:10–11, NKJV)
There are obvious differences between the children of God, and the children of the devil. This passage expresses those differences negatively. The person who does not practice righteousness, and the one who does not love his brother, is “not of God.” This is entirely consistent with the apostle’s declaration in Acts 10:35, that “whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Practicing righteousness is equivalent to practicing truth, and walking in the light (1 John 1:6-7). Christians live their profession of faith by walking in truth, otherwise, they are “not of God,” and are without God’s approval. For you see, it is sin not to practice righteousness (1 John 3:7-8; James 4:17). As we practice righteousness, we must love our brethren, even as Jesus commanded from the beginning (1 John 13:34-35). The devil’s children do not practice righteousness or brotherly love. To them, these are unnecessary for God’s acceptance. It is a great deception to say how one lives as a Christian does not impact one’s divine approval now, and eternally. May we practice righteousness, and love our brethren. By this, we know we are of God.
15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17, NKJV)
In Luke’s narrative, Jesus had just told the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, exposing the sin of judgmental self-righteousness, while honoring the humble heart that pleases God (Lk. 18:9-14). A real-life illustration now follows, demonstrating the humility required to receive and enter the kingdom of God. His disciples were rebuking people who brought their small children, including infants, to Jesus to be blessed. Jesus was “greatly displeased” with the disciples’ conduct (Mark 10:13-14). The kingdom of God is composed of those with the innocent humility of children (Matthew 18:1-4; 19:13-14). Not only does this passage destroy the false doctrine of inheriting original sin, it also establishes the heart condition one must have to be saved. The Lord will not bless the arrogant, self-righteous person with redemption. Be careful with what heart you try to follow Jesus. It is the one with the heart of a child who receives the kingdom, and hence, the Lord’s eternal blessing.