The Gospel and Childishness

Posted on November 19, 2010 · Posted in Gospel, Parenting, Shaping Influences

In the previous post we talked about a gospel-based approach to correcting sin in your children. This approach focused on removing anger from your style of discipline. Now we come to the point raised earlier by our reader—why would a child think that a parent would be angry with him for childish behavior, such as falling in the mud.

The Bible provides parameters for thinking about our children. Psalm 127 says that children are a reward, a blessing from God. Proverbs 1 teaches that instructing children should be viewed as adorning them with fine jewelry. In a busy world, children frequently are not treated as rewards to be adorned with the beauty of God’s word. Think about a Christmas tree that was put up in a rush. Instead of colored lights, regular light bulbs were used. Instead of tinsel, strips of newspaper are randomly thrown about the tree. In the place of festive ornaments, cut-outs from old magazines are hung. Not an inviting picture, is it? God has provided you with a precious gift—your children. However, these children must be changed from the inside out. What better way to address their need of Jesus Christ than to adorn them with God’s word, spoken to them with love and gratitude toward God?

David speaks of God’s word as the most beautiful possession that one can acquire. To illustrate this, look at how Psalm 19 and Proverbs 3 speak about the word of God. God’s word is more valuable than fine gold. You would not throw gold on the floor at your children’s feet; rather, you would present it to them with wonder and awe at its beauty. Far too often, we present the fine jewelry of God’s word to our children carelessly, so that they are like the forlorn Christmas tree described above.

Romans teaches that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. Don’t minimize how often your children hear the word of Christ. Childish behavior, though not sinful in itself, is often inconvenient and time consuming to deal with. But even in childish moments, your children are still God’s gift to you. God wants you to adorn them with the wonder of his word. It is easy to be exasperated with their awkward, childish behavior. Certainly, this is how the Enemy wants you to respond to childishness.

Sinful behavior is to be met with the powerful combination of pleasant words and the rod, as you direct your children to Christ, who can help them to respond with heartfelt obedience. But childish behavior tells you that your children have a long journey toward maturity ahead of them. Adorn that journey with the riches of God’s word. Delight in the reward that God has brought you. I am not being idealistic or romantic. I am well aware of the challenges children and childish behavior bring. But the Holy Spirit calls upon you to have the word of Christ dwelling richly within. Delight in your children and their childish behavior. Those childish moments will be gone before you know it. My eyes fill with tears at the moments I lost by not delighting in the childishness of my own children. By God’s grace there were many moments of delight, but not nearly as many as there could have been. Let the beauty and joy of the gospel shine, so that it penetrates deeply into the hearts of your children. Delight in the gift you have been given.

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.