Sunday, April 27, 2008

Train Up a Child Now

The following clip could have inspired a thousand posts. I almost couldn't narrow it down to just one topic. While brainstorming for ideas on what to title this, a few fun and silly phrases came to mind:


Biblical Womanhood vs. Feminine Vermin
A Case for Homeschooling
The Constant Dripping: A Look at its Origins
Psychoanalytic Parenting: Making Progress in the Wrong Direction
Before They Were Nags
Rottenness in Everyone's Bones
Warning: Sugar N' Spice May Cause Cavities N' Heartburn
Is There Any More Room on the Roof?

See if you can come up with any of your own:





In spite of all the themes present, I think what strikes me most is that the annoying creature in this scene is a mere child. Many people believe that children are too young to understand the things of God. The Bible teaches the opposite:

1. Parents are commanded to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord: "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deuteronomy 6:7 & 11:19).

2. There is an expectation for children to know the Scriptures: "And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).

3. Scripture speaks to children directly: "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

4. The Scripture also gives vivid commentaries on a child's character: "Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright" (Proverbs 20:11).

5. Finally, Scripture promises positive results when we discipline children from an early age: "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol" (Proverbs 23:13-14). "Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart" (Proverbs 29:17).

This is not an exhaustive study of the scriptures on this topic. There are many more verses like these which speak of the importance of training up a child in the way he should go. The important thing is to note that if a child is never too young to be disciplined, then he is never too young to understand the gospel. I find that all too often, children are marginalized in our evangelism efforts. If we do not properly explain to them who our Lord is and their identity in the grand scheme of God's creation as men and women, we will stunt the growth of their faith and character.

Consider the two children in this scene. Shirley (Temple) is a sweet, helpful, nurturing, encouraging and supportive little girl. But the other child, who ironically is called Joy, is the epitome of the kind of woman who will be a constant drain on a man in the future. The Bible gives us the confidence that children do understand much more than we give them credit for. The time to discipline, train, and evangelize them is now.

4 comments:

Wretched said...

During the times I have wanted kids I wanted to bring them up as God has shown us is correct. I find the weaknesses that I would have in that endeavor when I'm around my nephews.
The frustrating part is that they are not brought up in a godly way and I have no say in their upbringing so I get frustrated. It's not their fault but they can sure gnaw on my nerves at times.
Thankfully God is growing me in patience and longsuffering. Things I've been lacking in for far too long and it's gotten better.
I've even "cooked" with one of them a couple times and am able to tolerate the other one much better. Of course his maturing is helping :)
There are few things as beautiful as a well behaved and godly child.
Rich's family would be an example. Amazing kids!

Jennifer said...

I don't know Rich's family. I hope to get to know them soon. I do think children can try our patience simply because they are children, but it is definitely challenging if the child is not well-behaved. Either way, whether the child brings us joy or a challenge, it is a wonderful blessing from God to help us understand His grace toward us.

Jennifer said...

Shortly after posting this, I chatted online with a friend. I thought the transcript of our chat was pretty funny, so I'm posting it here:

Bryan: HA! That is funny! I might be missing something but if Shirley is the sugar and spice and she's a good kid how could she cause cavities and heartburn? You near-mensa folks have to help us barely-passing folks along :)

me: The sugar n' spice is from that poem, "That's what little girls are made of." So if "Joy" is made of that, well, it could cause cavities and heartburn.

Bryan: Ooooh I didn't know the rest of the poem. I know "sugar and spice and everything nice" but not sure why I know that part. Then yes! That's perfect!

Bryan: http://www.mamalisa.com/house/girlmade.html
Is that it?

me: Yes, that's the one.

Bryan: HEY! Frogs and snails? That's what we get? Clearly written by a member of NOW

me: Hey, frogs turn into princes . . .

Bryan: Only if kissed by...oh man I am slackin in my fairy tale lore...a princess?

me: I think so. And snails are a delicacy in some parts of the world . . . And puppy dog tails wag when they are happy. So it's not that bad.

Bryan: Snails are a garden pest that get sprayed with pesticide and puppydog tails have fleas. Yeah, I'm a glass mostly empty and broken kinda guy...

me: Well, look -- sugar n' spice can cause cavities and heartburn!!!

Bryan: ROFL Good point! Hmmm salt is a spice. So if you mix salt and a snail....this nursery rhyme is messed up.

me: Ewwww. You are right. We can easily conclude that men and women do not get along very well then.

Bryan: Proof that I should remain single. But I guess it would be severely lacking in wisdom to base a life decision on a nursery rhyme though eh?

me: this is true!

Mark Sohmer said...

Jen,

Good topic! I appreciate the Scriptural points you made and shall endeavor to be a better Daddy as a result.

God bless you!

in Christ, and for His glory,

Mark