“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
It’s a verse most of us know and use (often) when correcting or shepherding our kids. In fact, in our family, it’s one of the verses our kids memorized at a very young age!
Many of us look to the Bible for wisdom in parenting, and use explicit parenting verses — like the one above — in our parenting. The Bible is the best parenting book around; however, if we restrict our instruction only to the verses strictly referring to parenting, we’ve missed out on the whole council of Scripture — and loads of wisdom for parenting.
Scripture says a lot more about kids than most people realize.
First of all, children are people. “If children are people, then they are also our neighbors. This means that every scriptural imperative that speaks to loving our neighbor as we love ourselves suddenly comes to bear on how we parent.” (source and an excellent reminder)
Second, reminding ourselves how God views children will renew our outlook, and hopefully, restore our humility.
What does Scripture say about children?
God loves children.
- People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. — Mark 10:13-16
- Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” — Mark 9:36-37
Children are gifts from God, especially to their families.
Psalm 127:3 reminds us, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (NLT).
God holds adults accountable for their actions toward children.
That verse I shared above — Children, obey your parents …” — is one with which most of us are familiar. Many of us also know the following two verses, too ::
Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may be long-lived on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2-3)
What we tend to forget is the first part of the next verse :: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.”
How many times we’ve placed the emphasis on the response of the child while neglecting the impetus of the parent! But we are responsible and will be held accountable for our actions and attitudes and words toward children!
Not only do verses like Matthew 12:36 and Romans 14:12 speak to this, but more specifically, Mark 9:42 referring to those with child-like faith — whether children or new Believers — tells us that anyone who causes “one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck” (NLT).
Children can believe in Jesus and be saved!
The work of the Holy Spirit is not limited to adults, and the promise of Romans 10:9 is for all — not just adults.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Many children come to faith as children and learn, like Timothy, from mothers, grandmothers, or other adults who share Jesus and the Scriptures with them. (2 Timothy 3:15) Even David recounts how God taught him in his youth! (Psalm 71)
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. (Acts 2:38-39)
Children can be examples for adults.
Jesus Himself used children as an example of how to believe! “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
Children should be deliberately taught.
From the beginning of the history of God’s people, God sets the precedence for families to teach their children who He is and to pass on their faith to their children.
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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)
Many of us know the command of Deuteronomy 6, but this model for faith formation continues throughout the whole Bible!
Children can be used by God.
Don’t ever underestimate the ability of God to use children!
All throughout Scripture we see God use kids to give testimony to a great God ::
- David upholding the glory and honor of God and reigniting faith throughout Israel when he took a stand against Goliath
- the little slave girl of Naaman’s wife who wanted the people around her to know the power of God
- Daniel and his friends who stood against a king in order to honor the Lord through the food they ate
- a little girl named Rhoda who prayed with other believers for Peter to be miraculously released from prison. Even when the adults at Mary’s house had a hard time believing that God actually answered their prayer, Rhoda praised God.
And that is only a few examples. God can and does use children in the Kingdom!
Children can hear God speak.
Again, the Bible is clear that old age isn’t a requirement for hearing God speak! The Scriptures tell us that God spoke to Samuel as a child, to the boy Joseph through a dream, and through Gabriel to young Mary!
God wants to speak to our kids, and what a privilege we have to teach our kids how to hear God’s voice!
Whether young or old, God can and will use anyone whose heart is devoted to Him. I pray that our kids will set their hearts on seeking God! And may He use us to nurture faith and faithfulness in our children!!
Because of Jesus,
Erika // FaithfulMoms.org