Children: A Blessing

That Keeps On Giving

{alt}

They smile at us, make us laugh, make us yell, go through diapers like there is no tomorrow, skin their knees, make good decisions, make poor decisions ... and drastically change our lives. They are our children, and they are most definitely a blessing to us.

God designed children to be a very special blessing to parents.

With all the societal complaining about raising little ones and the many frustrations that can arise during parenthood, we at times may need to remind ourselves of the reality that children are actually a blessing, not a burden. Sometimes it’s hard to remember this spiritual truth when parenting challenges and societal opinions are constantly hounding us. Or when we’re up for the fifth time in the middle of the night rocking a colicky baby back to sleep. Or when we’re called by the local principal with bad news about our teen misbehaving on school property. Or when the grocery bill is as big as the mortgage payment.

But God designed children to be a very special blessing to parents. Some of these blessings are evident from the very beginning of parenthood: the smiles, the coos, the laughing, the curiosity, the wonder on an infant’s face when looking at the world, the hugs. Other blessings are less immediately apparent and may take more time to manifest, or require more searching on our part.

Having and raising children teaches us parents spiritual principles that we will continue to learn from for the rest of our lives. And that is certainly a blessing.

The intent of children

God’s beautiful perspective on this special subject is recorded throughout the Bible. As we study the Bible more and more, we come to find that God loves children and families, and He uses the family analogy to teach many spiritual concepts.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward." Inspired by God, one of King Solomon’s psalms of praise gives us a beautiful summary of family: “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5).

Another psalm describes a domestic scene with lovely poetic imagery: “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD” (Psalm 128:3-4).

To the ancient Israelites, God offered special blessings for obedience, blessings which specifically included having children (Deuteronomy 7:13-14; 28:4) . (And one of the reasons God detested the actions of the pagan nations that surrounded Israel was because they sacrifced their children to their gods.)

Students of the Bible may also be familiar with the touching stories of Sarah, Hagar, Rachel, Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Elizabeth, and other women in the Bible who were blessed with children, even when circumstances appeared dire or hopeless. These women and their families certainly experienced direct blessings from God!

Children are intended to be a blessing from God and an expansion of the family that begins with husband and wife.

When God established the first family back in the Garden of Eden, He blessed Adam and Eve, then instructed them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) . He gave this same directive to Noah and his sons after the global flood (Genesis 9:1 , 7) . In other words, He encouraged them to have many children.

Thankfully today, we don’t feel the same pressure to help populate the entire planet! But even a small family is a huge blessing.

God also uses the family concept to teach us deeper spiritual lessons. There are multiple scriptures throughout the Bible that allude to God’s desire for us to become His children (Malachi 2:15; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 3:26-29; Hebrews 2:10; 1 John 3:1-2) .

Clearly, children are intended to be a blessing from God and an expansion of the family that begins with husband and wife.

“Who needs kids?” and other extremes

But is this view of children common in contemporary culture? Sadly, no. Rather than considered a blessing, some view becoming pregnant or having children in a negative light, as an inconvenience, or even a deep burden.

Consider some of the following, saddening societal trends:

  • Abortion is a widespread, accepted form of birth control worldwide, causing millions of deaths each year.
  • Children get described in dehumanizing terms (without any hint of playful joking), such as “pooping machines,” “disgusting little blobs,” or “parasites.”
  • Adverseness related to children is popularized, as in: “I don’t like kids. They smell and drool and spread disease.”
  • Adverseness and bitterness related to parenthood is popularized, as in: “I had to give up my dreams when I became a parent.”
  • Millions of referrals are made to child protective agencies every year regarding child abuse.

Or simply recall the last time you were in a public place and heard a parent yelling uncontrollably or cursing angrily at a child. It’s painful to witness, isn’t it?

There are times to keep silent and be peaceful, it’s true; but there are certainly also times to laugh, dance, and sing!

But strong dislike of children is not just a modern trend. While it is certainly appropriate to teach obedience and respect to children, for example, one extreme view over the years has been that “children should be seen and not heard.” But where is the room in this statement for the innocence and joy—and even the silliness—of childhood? There are times to keep silent and be peaceful, it’s true; but there are certainly also times to laugh, dance, and sing (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) ! How much our children would miss out on in life if we merely expected them to be silent automatons!

Another extreme can also be found in society: shaming or pressuring childless couples into having children before they are ready, without considering their circumstances. We must always consider that we can’t possibly know everything a couple is going through or where their hearts are. After all, there are valid reasons to wait to have children or to choose not to have any at all. Therefore, to dictate when a couple should begin having children is simply not our responsibility.

We must be careful not to leap to the conclusion that a childless couple is being punished for sinful behavior.

Of course, in some heartbreaking cases, couples who dearly wish to have children simply cannot. It is important to note that this is not a reflection of some great sin on their part, or an indication that God is not blessing them in other ways. This concept is best explained by reading the account of the blind man in John 9: Jesus emphasized that it was not sin that had made the man blind, as was believed. In the same way, we must be careful not to leap to the conclusion that a childless couple is being punished for sinful behavior.

It is clear that those without children receive blessings and lessons in different ways from our Heavenly Father. To say that some spiritual blessings just can’t be received without having children would be incorrect and would ignore the apostle Paul, the prophet Jeremiah, and other faithful followers of God who never had children.

Jesus Christ blesses little children

Looking past all the natural challenges of parenthood as well as the negative societal trends attacking parenthood, we must dig deeper to explore the spiritual lessons we can learn from children. After all, to neglect the striking and lasting impact that children can make on our spiritual lives would be incorrect and would ignore Christ’s own teaching on little children.

Recall the account recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, when parents wanted to bring their children to Jesus Christ to have them blessed. At first the disciples scolded those parents and guardians. Perhaps they believed Christ was too important to be “bothered” by admiring a new baby or talking with a youngster.

But Christ’s response to His disciples was stern and His disappointment with their behavior toward children was clear: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mark 10:14-15) .

Matthew’s gospel account even adds that we are to “become as little children” to be worthy of entering the Kingdom (Matthew 18:3) .

Children are pure, innocent, humble, teachable, eager to please, quick to experience joy, and the list goes on. So what does this mean in regular, daily application in our lives as adults? Well, children are pure, innocent, humble, teachable, eager to please, quick to experience joy, and the list goes on. Our daily lives can be difficult and draining, even stressful and depressing. Let these beautiful qualities in children inspire you as you seek to implement them on a regular basis in your Christian life!

The apostle Peter further emphasized this point: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:1-2, emphasis added). Like innocent children, we should be pure and sincere in conduct (1 Peter 1:14-16) . Peter’s words also reinforce the daily necessity of Bible study if we wish to grow in spiritual character.

Witnessing the refreshing innocence of children teaches us spiritual lessons, as does observing their complete dependence on a parent.

Specific blessings

So, witnessing the refreshing innocence of children teaches us spiritual lessons, as does observing their complete dependence on a parent—just as we should be completely dependent on our Heavenly Father. Applying these lessons in our lives brings blessings.

What are some other specific blessings associated with children? There are several, and you can likely come up with many of your own, but here are a few of our favorites:

1. Our children’s demands reduce the selfishness in our own lives.

When we decided to have children, we hopefully knew what we were getting ourselves into: a major sacrifice of time, money, and comfort was going to be the result of this decision, yet we decided to do it anyway. In retrospect, with all the time we had on our hands before becoming parents, it seems like we should have been able to single-handedly broker peace in the Middle East, complete three post-graduate college degrees, or cure cancer.

Maybe not quite, but choosing to have a child in our lives means that we are willing to put that child before our own comfort, plans, entertainment, and so many other things we had gotten so used to before the child was in our lives. This is an everyday opportunity to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21) and to esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) . Both approaches are natural enemies of selfishness. The same attitude of self-sacrifice that Jesus Christ displayed and taught should be willingly exhibited and applied by every parent.

This is an everyday opportunity to submit to one another and to esteem others better than ourselves.

2. Teaching our children about obedience reinforces our own obedience to God.

You know that reward you’d been saving to give to your child when he or she finally completed a worthy task or goal? Or maybe you were delighted to give your child a special gift on a noteworthy day. Then later your son or daughter disappointed you with a poor attitude or outright act of defiance and you had to take the toy or reward away. Didn’t it cause you heartache as well to remove it because you had delighted so much in giving it? Well, that’s how God feels about us when we disobey Him. He deeply desires to give us blessings, but sometimes He is prevented from granting us those blessings because of our own defiance or foolishness.

When we instruct our children daily about the importance of obedience, we are likewise regularly reminded that obeying God ultimately makes life easier and brings us special blessings. All good gifts come from God (James 1:17) .

There is a proper pride associated with watching our precious children growing up into responsible, nurturing, converted adults.

3. Our children help us experience joy.

When you first hold your own baby and begin to experience those early moments of cuddling and bonding, you start to realize why babies are described as “bundles of joy.” There is deep contentment and delight gained when interacting with your children. Spending time with them, teaching them, observing them as they grow into their own unique personalities, and ideally, watching them commit their lives to God produces great satisfaction and gladness in us as parents. There is a proper pride associated with watching our precious children growing up into responsible, nurturing, converted adults. Such joy is an aspect of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) .

Interacting with our own children gives us valuable insight into how God the Father sees us.

4. Having children and watching them grow instills admiration in God’s miraculous creation.

When was the last time you paused to reflect on just how miraculous the beginning of human life is? From learning about the development of a baby inside the womb, to witnessing that first ultrasound, to marveling at our child’s growth and development with each milestone achieved, we can be astonished at the miracle that God has given to us parents! The development of the human brain and body throughout infancy and childhood is a testament to God’s matchless abilities as the Creator of all life (Psalm 139:13-14) .

5. Our children give us a much-needed glimpse of our own relationship with God the Father.

If you have your children call you a god, you’re reading the wrong Bible. Joking aside, the parallels between parents and our children and God and His children are undeniable. Interacting with our own children gives us valuable insight into how God the Father sees us. We are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26) ; our children look a lot like us. God is our ultimate authority; we are to raise our children and be their leaders (Ephesians 6:1-4) . We go to God the Father in prayer for comfort and guidance; our children come to us for comfort and reassurance. As parents, we quickly learn how patient, loving, and merciful God is with us, because we learn to exercise that same patience and love with our children, even when they are being disobedient or defiant.

Bringing another human life into the family of God is an exceptional blessing that won’t ever fade, disappear, or deteriorate.

Having these real-world examples clearly paralleling the spiritual reality of how God interacts with us is encouraging and helps us change our lives for the better to be better children to Him. The reality of what this Parent-child relationship will ultimately become is both humbling and motivating: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!... Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2) .

So hug those wonderful children and grandchildren! You are truly blessed!

A gift of a lifetime and more

Money disappears. Beauty fades. Health deteriorates. Age catches up with us. But our children will be a continual blessing to us our entire lives—teaching us valuable lessons as we teach them, becoming friends and confidants, and perhaps even providing grandchildren (Proverbs 17:6) . Bringing another human life into the family of God (Malachi 2:15; Ephesians 3:14-15)  is an exceptional blessing that won’t ever fade, disappear, or deteriorate. It is an eternal blessing given to us by our own Parent in heaven.

So hug those wonderful children and grandchildren! You are truly blessed!

Further Your Study

A Type of God’s Family

A Type of God’s Family

God has a purpose in creating humans, and our families can help reflect that. Be reminded of just why we as parents should be diligently learning God’s way, living God’s way, teaching God’s way. Read More >

Joy

Joy

Could you and your family use more joy in your lives? God commands us to rejoice and to have joy, despite the dreariness and dangers of this world. Delve into this study to find out how to increase your joy Read More >

Obedience

Obedience

Obedience is an attitude of the heart, demonstrated through love and trust. Read about how to cultivate the attitude of obedience in your children, learn about positive roles of authority, and discover how the concept of sowing and reaping reinforces Read More >

Abraham and the Amazing Promises

Abraham and the Amazing Promises

Because of his profound faith and obedience, Abraham was offered some astonishing promises from God. It took patience, but Abraham learned that God keeps His promises. Read this inspiring account about how God makes the impossible possible. Read More >

Are We Children of God Now

Are We Children of God Now?

Is God the Father of all? Are we His children now? You may be surprised, but you will also be encouraged to discover what the Bible really says about this. Read More >

Children of God

Children of God

What does the Bible mean when it talks about the children of God? What does this description mean for our purpose in life—now and forever? Read More >