Biblical Honor for Children - A
Making Sense of Children - A
God has placed faith within every human soul; this is a divinely appointed inner-sense. Man has pursued endless adventures to encounter this faith or conducted constant sin to quash it. Yet God's imprint of eternity remains in all souls. In the new-born, upon the infant there is a safety canopy over this implant - it is called innocence.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; (Eccl 3:11b)
Biblical honour for children
The medieval and false proverb reads likes this - children should be seen and not heard. Yet this is not as God would have it, nor is it how He treats children. In the economy of heaven children are to be welcomed, warmed and wondered at. Jesus also loves their inner-sense to innocence.
Children deliver a fresh faith to heaven because they have not been beaten, burdened or battered by this world. Children are yet to find the education and the edifications that will claim to be the objects of their affections. Unpolluted and unsullied a child is far likelier to approach Jesus than an adult.
Brennan Manning cleverly explains that children see heaven not only because they are innocent- but also incompetent. (1) A child has not learned to reason God away nor do they think they do not need God. The sophistication of adult thinking is yet to dull their bright spiritual eyes. (Mark 9:33-37, 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17). Manning further develops that the Pharisee savors impeccable conduct, the child delights in the relentless tenderness of God. (2)
The positive qualities of children - openness, trust, playfulness, simplicity and sensitivity to feelings have not been hindered or socialised. (3) Children are still learning to hold resentments, refuse forgiveness and believe ill of each other. No wonder God delights in such transparent innocence. Brennan Manning again captures their essence so well - the face that a child wears is their own face. (4) Children are spontaneous in joy and instant in tears. They are yet to learn emotional repression and are free to exhibit their pleasures and pains. A child's heart has not yet hardened nor has their God-focused spirit yet cooled. The faith of a child is authentic and unpolluted by life - yet!
Matthew 18:1-10 is purple passage expressing the esteem of Heaven for children. Spiritual quality is both modelled and represented by children. Jesus uses children as the baseline of spiritual acumen. Jesus invites children to stand with Him (and notice) IN THE MIDST of adults (see v2), not on any sideline. Children come when Jesus calls. Adults are far less likely to respond to Jesus call and come. With Jesus children should be both seen and heard.
In this canon of spiritual quality Jesus understands that children are loyal by nature, for infidelity is learned. Loyalty is the expression of an unadulterated trust. They neither count the cost of loyalty nor expect reciprocity – it is just there. Such devotion surely bring tears to the eyes of Heaven.
Who is the person you would consider most eligible for heaven? Are they a child? Jesus certainly selects children. Children are the model of eligibility for heaven. Remember, heaven is received by faith and earth is about living by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Neither heaven nor earth is measured by knowledge. In fact faith and knowledge are in conflict upon earth. (5) Heaven is entered by faith alone, (remember the thief on the cross who only knew Jesus - nothing else), children have little knowledge but healthy faith. This faith God has implanted before birth (Ecclesiastes 3:11b)
In a robust and confronting statement Jesus explains that children are such a model of spiritual acceptability adults actually need to change to become like them (Matthew 18:3). Adults are to return to as God made them, because what God made was originally correct (see Psalm 139:9). Adults need to unlearn so that they may regain their authenticity of childhood.
The gravity of Jesus' teaching increases throughout Matthew 18:1-14 as He pointedly promises retribution for those who bring harm to children. Jesus continues to develop the importance of children as He explains they even have their personal representation in heaven.
“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)
God does not leave children without spiritual attention or direction, neither should man. Children warrant spiritual attention – God’s face is for children.
God's deposits in all children are totally good so God acts to protect children, maintain their goodness and protect His precious deposits. The authentic child is known by God before conception (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
Continuing to explore scripture we find that:
- God elevates the youngest - Luke 22:26 and
- God chooses children to praise Him - Matthew 21:16. Both these factors are a surprise to the complete adult. (I’d first choose praise from those most important. Hmm ... whoever asked a child to write them a personal reference?)
So the question must be asked how can a child's faith and innocence be protected a long as physically possible? Adults are not the measure of heaven’s eligibility – children are.
An adult's impact upon a child is not simply about faith development but rather faith preservation. There is the canopy of innocence protecting their inner-sense of God that needs to remain un-punctured for as long as physically possible. With an alarming promise Jesus warns against the adults who may introduce a child to sin for adults are curators of a child's faith.
1) This is a quote of Brennan Manning from an uncertain source.
2) P67, The Rabbi's Heartbeat - Brennan Manning ~ Pub = NavPress, Colorado Springs 2003
3) P69, ibid
4) P69, ibid
5) In Eden Adam was commanded to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Ever since his abandonment of God's only command in Eden the Tree of Knowledge has competed with faith (The Tree of Life) and explained faith away by reason. BUT reason is not the path to heaven - faith alone is.
NEXT - Soul Sense: 'The Seed of Faith in Children'