This article was written by Brent Thomas, Teaching Pastor and an Elder of Grace Community Church in Glen Rose, TX. You can find more of Brent’s articles on his website titled Colossians 3:16
As you might know, we are currently (and very expectantly) expecting our fourth boy. Lord willing, Eli Calvin will be here very soon. We are often overwhelmed by the weighty blessing that is raising children. This became all the more apparent for us the other night as we were watching television and came across a preview for a show called something like “True Dreams of a Soccer Mom” or something like that. I can’t remember the actual name of the show, but the premise was that three women had “put their dreams on hold” to raise their families, but this television show was going to give them the chance to pursue what they really wanted in life. One was a fashion designer, one a police officer and I don’t know what the other was.
I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this. Our culture understands children to be an interruption. They might be a worthwhile interruption, but in the end, they’re still an interruption to what your life is really about, to what you really want. This is entirely antithetical to the way the Bible presents children. Consider Psalm 127:
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
The Psalm opens with a wonderful testimony to the balance between God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility. We must labor, but unless the Lord builds the house, we do so in vain. Then the Psalmist says something interesting, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil.” How different this is from our “hard worker” mentality. Not that we shouldn’t work hard, but sometimes, we just need to rest, trusting God. Isn’t it the truth that sometimes God accomplishes more when we’re asleep than when we’re awake? But that’s not the point I want to meditate upon.
In the second stanza, the Psalmist says that children are “a heritage from the LORD,” and a “reward.” He then compares children to arrows in the hands of a warrior. This imagery has always fascinated me. It implies first and foremost that we’re in some sort of a battle. Paul puts this in perspective, saying in Ephesians 6:12 that
we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Paul says that, yes, we are in a battle, but it is not a physical battle. I wonder how many of us think of our children as weapons in the battle against the “cosmic powers of this present darkness?” The way many of us raise our children, not only do we not view them as arrows, we’ve handed them over to others to aim, not realizing that we might be the target.
It’s not my agenda to convince everyone to home-educate, even some people will read this that way. It is my agenda to challenge Christian parents to carefully examine how is influencing our children, especially in light of Scripture portraying them as arrows in a battle. In this sense, “influence” is also “aiming.” Are our children being aimed at targets that matter and are we aiming them through the sights of Scripture?
We must spend enough time with our children to know their particular gifts and interests and we must encourage those pursuits rather than discourage them. Too often, we chalk up a child’s doodling up to just that, a child doodling. But who knows if that doodling will develop into artistic excellence for the glory of God unless we encourage them to develop their own personalities and pursuits? All children are not the same, yet far too often, that’s just the way we treat them.
Aiming our children does not just mean re-creating them in our own image as though what is important to us will automatically be important to them. Of course, there are Gospel issues that must be passed on, but we must encourage them to view all of life in light of and in service of the Gospel, utilizing their special interests to that end. This is at least part of what it means to “aim” our children and yet far too often, we hand them over to others, whether it be their peers, their school or even the church to influence them. We claim that by selecting these influences, we are in fact aiming them, but there is no replacement for a parent’s input.
It’s time that Christian parents reject the world’s notion that children are but an interruption to our “real” pursuits. God says that they are a reward from Him. Do we believe Him? It’s time we seriously question who is aiming our arrows.
- Read Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
- Read Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God With Your Children by John Younts
- Read Teach Them Diligently: How To Use The Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo