Toddlers, Futile Thinking and the Gospel

Posted on March 7, 2008 · Posted in Parenting, Toddlers

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you
must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  Eph. 4:17

But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
       they do not know what makes them
stumble. Proverbs 4:19

Another consequence of children’s natural worldview is
futile thinking. Often parents say
things like, why can’t children just do what
the Bible says, can’t they see it is for their own good
? The answer is – no
they can’t see that. Ephesians describes
the thinking of those who don’t know God as futile. This fits closely with the description of the
wicked in Proverbs 4:19. Those without
Christ live in darkness; they don’t know that their very thoughts are deceiving
them. A young child thinks he will be happy if he has a certain toy, but when
he acquires it, his happiness last only for a moment. He thinks if he gets want he wants he will be
content. Yet the reality is that getting
what he wants does not lead to contentment, but only to a stronger desire for more
things. This is what Ephesians is describing as futile, dark thinking.

The solution to this problem of futile thinking is not
simply to show children the right way to think.  The solution is to constantly hold out for
them the superiority of gospel-based thinking. This kind of thinking can, of course, only happen if Christ becomes the
center of their world by faith. We do our children a disservice when we expect
them to change by simply modifying their behavior or changing their
thoughts. This only adds to their
futility as they try to figure out their world.

Shepherd Press exists to provide resources for families. The
books we publish, starting with the foundation laid in Shepherding a Child’s Heart, are designed to help parents implement
the power of gospel based thinking. These two passages in Ephesians and Proverbs clearly define the problems
that children have with receiving instruction. On their own, they have no ability to correctly assess what will lead
away from futility.

This week’s posts have pointed out the need to recognize
that children are operating from a deeply flawed worldview. That worldview can
only be changed by the power of Christ and his word. This is the hope we have
as parents. As we faithfully present Christ and the biblical worldview, we
trust God to work the miracle of creating a new heart in our children. This is why authority must not be presented
from the perspective of “Mom & Dad are bigger; therefore you must do as we
say.” Rather, the authority that God has given to Mom & Dad is to help
children see that they live in God’s world and they are accountable to him to
live as he directs.

We have had great comments this week. Please continue to
interact with me about these vital issues of life as they intersect with the
lives of your children. In tomorrow’s
post I’ll summarize the things we have covered this week.

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