An Opportunity to Grow
One of God’s great callings for Christians is to value and train our children. For those of you who live with children, let me tell you why it’s a gift it is to be at home with children right now. For those of you who don’t currently have children in the home, this can benefit you as well.
First understand that our culture, often unknowingly, resents children and treats them as an inconvenience. I witnessed this first hand as a teacher in the public school system. Lawmakers, teachers, and administrators in the public school system often project a deep concern for children when the opposite is true. There are good people in each category, but the system as a whole places job security, income, and political correctness ahead of the best interests of children. Consequently, many people in this system actually resent children far more than they would have you know. I have heard teachers say things about their students that would shock you. I have also seen administrators and lawmakers mishandle discipline in ways that should have disqualified them from employment (or at least qualified them for months of mandatory training). All the while, I have seen unions and political parties preserve and grow their power at the expense of the student, instead of the repairing the system.
Now, as Christians, God always teaches us to be the opposite of the selfish culture in which we live. This holds consistent with his teaching about treatment of our children. The Psalmist says this, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, fruit of the womb a reward.” (127:3, ESV). This means that, no matter how we feel about it, God has given us children to bless to us. This calls us to self-evaluate any time we want to put our own interests ahead of the best interests of our children. We must think of our children as a blessing from God.
One major application of this is that we must spend time genuinely investing in their spiritual well-being. Again, the Psalmist writes this about God, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (78:5-7). Parents must teach God’s law, the Bible, to their children, who must pass their knowledge onward to the next generation.
While these are not new commands, we have always had an excuse for not spending time valuing our children and teaching them: lack of time. Typically, when we talk about the need to spend quality time with children, parents and others in the home will lament how busy they are.
Let's put aside the fact that technological advancements of the last 100 years have reduced most of the time parents used to spend on essential tasks. Let's put aside the fact that we parents abuse this free time with non-essential technology instead of being with our children. Let's address the excuse of "not enough time".
Here's the answer: the social issues caused by the COVID-19 virus have given us more free time with our children than most of us ever imagined we’d have. The time is there; now we just have to use it!
Now is the time to invest in the next generation by actively teaching them on a daily basis. As parents, we teach our children when we read to them from the Bible and other books about the Bible. We invest in them when we not only read, but have conversations with them about the how to understand God’s word and apply God’s truth. We invest in them spiritually when we sing songs about God with them. And it happens when we pray with them. Specifically, they need to be praying their requests and learning to pray according to the priorities in the Lord's prayer. We should do these things with our children at home on a daily basis, regardless of their age, and even more so now that we are all legally confined to our homes.
One final encouragement: in order to do this, you need to cultivate your own relationship with God. Proverbs 14:26 says, “In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” Our children depend on us being strong in our confidence and dependance on God. This doesn’t happen when we put up a front of spirituality; it happens when we embrace God as someone we read about, pray to, and sing about! This applies to those without children as well. We all become a greater blessing to the children of the church when we are strong in the Lord.
In short, this virus is an opportunity to improve in some of the ways we care for our children. Even more, it’s a chance to improve our relationship with God. If you haven’t been taking the opportunity yet, there is still time to begin new spiritual habits that will bless God, you, and those around you. I’m praying that we all make the most of that opportunity.