Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Blessing of Children

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And he laid his hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

There are so many Bible verses on the blessing of children that I could not contain them here, so I will give you a sampling as I go. Continuing on the topic of motherhood as vocation, it is important to understand how emphatically Jesus and the Bible express children as blessings. There are some parents who really don't like their children much, or see them as a burden, or even a curse. This situation is among the saddest in the world. Exactly how important are children to Jesus? Here is what He says: 

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me" (Matthew 18:1-5).

To fail to see Jesus in the face of a child is to fail to see Jesus. How else should anyone receive a child but as if he were receiving the Lord himself? Most of us are guilty of falling short of Jesus' admonitions. It is heartbreaking when those who should love a child unconditionally--mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles--are harsh with that child, condemning and unforgiving. These things, along with placing unrealistically high expectations upon the child, ignoring her or failing to be loving, patient, kind, and understanding are symptoms of a fall from grace. There is a kind of Christian love called charity. Charity involves benevolent goodwill toward humanity and lenient judgment toward others. Charity points to God's mercy. 

A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world (the words of Jesus, John 16:21).

Charity should be extended to all of God's children, big or small. Don't forget to extend the same charity to parents as you do to children. Parents need help and support from their families and friends in raising their children in the faith. Folks, let's give others the benefit of the doubt. We are all doing the best we can, and being mothers and fathers is the most difficult, and most important, vocation in the world. In neither word nor deed cause a mother to doubt herself. Lift her up, tell her what a great job she is doing and how amazing her kids truly are. Love and accept parents and children unconditionally. Do not withhold your charity, causing another to stumble. Otherwise, Jesus says you will not see the kingdom of heaven.

Grandchildren are the crown of old men (Proverbs 17:6).

Common wisdom tells us that the most ferocious creatures in the world are mothers defending their children. Be your child's advocate. Protect your children all that you can from harm, whether physical, mental, or emotional. Mothers, honor your vocation as Jesus honors it. Honor and love yourself as God honors and loves you. Mother your children through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You will make mistakes, but be gentle with yourself and your children, and let no one treat your family unmercifully. When your children are grown, give them no less honor. This is your calling.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is His 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; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5).

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