What is important in life? What matters more than anything else? Whether you are conscious of it or not, these questions drive both you and your children. If you viewed the video link I posted yesterday about Clayton, it was obvious that this young man had a clear understanding of what is important. Instructing a Child’s Heart has some valuable material to help answer this very question. It is never too soon to begin discussing the real values of life with your children. The following quotation begins on page 104 of the book.
God does not exist for man; man exists for God. Jesus Christ
restores broken, fallen man to a true worship of God. The God of the Bible is
the supreme object of worship. Jesus Christ saves sinners and makes them worshipers.
Matthew 13:44 (ESV) says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
The man found a treasure. He buried it again. He hoped no one saw it. Filled with joy, he went off and sold everything so that he could buy the field and possess the treasure. He did not sell all out of a sense of duty. Can you imagine finding the treasure and saying, “Wouldn’t you know that I would have to find the treasure in the field? I hate it when this happens to me! Now I will have to sell all my stuff so I can buy that stupid field and possess that treasure.” He didn’t divest of his possessions out of a sense of duty. He sold out of a sense of profound joy. The treasure dazzled him. This is what the kingdom of heaven is like. Until your children have understood that it is worthwhile to divest of everything, that nothing in all the earth matters but knowing and loving Jesus, they will never know him and love him and serve him. Delight in God cannot occur in a vacuum. Display and demonstrate the wonders of God.
Your children are uniquely designed for worship. They have thirsty souls. Show them where you find living water. Remember Jesus’ words, “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (Jn. 7:37-38). Most drinks are consumed in the drinking, but this drink becomes a fountain within.
Why Is this so Important?
Implication 1: Interpretation Is Everything
Children interpret everything that happens to them. Their interpretation of circumstances determines how they will respond. The key to interpreting life is the glory of God. Children who are dazzled by the Lord of glory will interpret the experiences and opportunities of life correctly. The primary truth of all interpretation is the being and existence and glory of the God of the Bible.
Isaiah 40 is God’s comfort for his people in captivity. It declares the power and immensity of God. He is the God who scoops up the ocean in the palm of his hand, who stretches out the heavens. He is the God before whom the nations are like grasshoppers, who calls the stars out by name and whose great power is the reason no stars are missing. He raises and deposes rulers and princes. So the prophet asks, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,’ My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom” (Isa. 40:27-28).
Israel needed to remember the glory of the creator and sustainer of the universe to interpret their circumstances correctly.
Implication 2: Children Sin for Pleasure
Tell your children that the pleasures of sin are fleeting. Solid joys and lasting pleasures come through knowing and loving God. As Augustine said, “We are made for God and we will be restless until we find our rest in him.”
Implication 3: Don’t Feed the Idols
I observe that many parents feed their children’s idols. They take delight in their children’s delight in possessions. They fill their lives with excitement and pleasures. Parents expend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy in the development of performance abilities. Families are so overcommitted to activities that there is precious little time for meals together, family devotions, or simple conversation and family enjoyment. I have observed children coming to church in their Little League uniforms. At 11:55, the family quietly slips out of the Lord’s Day worship service. The game starts at noon and the coach won’t play anyone who is late. The church is gathered to exult in God’s presence and to hear his Word. The pastor is opening the Word of God. Just as he is getting to application, an entire family leaves the church because there is something more time sensitive–the child’s participation in Little League. If this child concludes that life is found in knowing God it will be in spite of, not because of, his parents’ examples.
May God remove our blinders! There are scores of activities for children. While choosing from the dizzying array of choices, think carefully or you will inadvertently lead your children away from God rather than to him. I am not against enjoying the blessings God has given us. To live in a home that is comfortable and nicely appointed, to provide your children dance lessons or sports opportunities is a blessing. If you can afford a piano and piano lessons, your children are blessed. I am not arguing for asceticism. But don’t present a worldview in which life consists in these things, and God is just icing on the cake. God is the cake!