Pictures of infants and toddlers are adorable. These pictures appear to represent every thing good about life: joy, beauty, innocence, vulnerability, potential. They fill us with hope that this sweet, precious child will somehow not be scarred by the harshness of life. However, there is danger in these photos. They can also blind us to the hidden reality of the dark heart lurking beneath the surface.
We are stunned by that first lie, that first blatant act of ugly selfishness. Where did that come from? The temptation is to say who did this to my baby?!? To be sure, outside influences are significant. But there is another, more significant source of the problem.
The real enemy is within. If we are to believe Scripture our children are born enemies of God, craving selfish desires:
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Ephesians 2:2-3
These are Paul’s words, the words of the Holy Spirit. Your children, like mine, were born deserving the wrath of God. They were born servants of the flesh. These are sobering words. But there is more that we must hear. In his kindness the Holy Spirit tells us exactly what it means to serve the flesh:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… Galatians 5:19-21
None of these horrible things need to be taught to your children. They come as standard equipment with each child. It is true, outside influences may help draw some of these sins to the surface. But even if every outside influence was perfect, the damage was already done. As Jeremiah says, the human heart is deceitful in all things. Paul adds that there is no one who is righteous.
So what about those wonderful baby pictures? Keep on taking them! But remember the adorable photos tell only a portion of the story. Children are a blessing. But they are blessings in need of redemption. Their hearts must be transformed. When God brings a child into your home you are immediately engaged in mortal combat for his soul. This battle for the soul must demand all of your attention.
This why you must bring the gospel of Christ early and often to your children. It is only because of the saving work of Christ that there is hope for the beautiful child in the picture!
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4