How a person or the society in which he or she lives values children largely influences the quality of emotional perspectives. Tenderness, forgiveness and understanding, or the lack of such, are all predisposed by the opinion of and feelings toward the most vulnerable members.
A heart that cannot feel how vulnerable, defenseless and trusting a child is reveals a heart that is hardened into iron containing many impurities. A heart that doesn’t respond to the vulnerability of a child with a desire to protect that child from harm is a heart that has been hardened. These hearts consider the value of a child to be of such little value as to be disposable.
Children are not small adults; they are children. They have their own unique identities that have specific characteristics and needs. The percentage of or amount of love that fills their hearts by their families of origin largely determine what predispositions or directions their twigs will grow without intervention. Their tiny hearts begin feeling love or the lack thereof while they are in the womb. Watching an ultrasound of how a baby in utero reacts to loud noises and harsh treatment of the mother helps us understand that an in-utero baby has emotions that can be seen on their tiny faces. Recent scientific statements found on the Internet that an in-utero baby feels pain have caused quite a stir.
One: What Is a Little Child?
The most explicit thoughts and feelings that Jesus gives in the Bible are found in the words of Matthew 18:2-14. Anyone who understand that all Scripture was given by inspiration that a child of God might be completely furnished the means for every good work, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 mentions, and that Jesus was God in flesh as John 1:1-14 reveals, accepts His opinions about children as having supreme quality.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-4: “Except you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Little children are mankind’s model for the necessary attitudes that allow a person to be born again and for becoming great in God’s coming kingdom. A childlike attitude is humble: “Humble himself as this little child.” Jesus said little children are humble, which implies they are trusting, tender and vulnerable. First Corinthians 14:20 goes on to explain that children’s unimpaired tendency is not to practice evil.
A little child is gentle, trusting and loving. They are simple in the way they view the world around them. If they have food and raiment, they are content. They believe their fathers and mothers will take care of them. They believe, they are spontaneous, and they are not tensed by the details of life as they have faith their parents are capable to handle life's situations. All these things are true if they haven’t been abused or jaded by overindulgence or neglect/abuse.
A little child smiles freely. They have tiny hands that naturally wave hello. They can break into spontaneous laughter that sounds as if bells are ringing. I wonder what this world would be without little children and answer my own question when I realize it would be a grim place indeed.
The little child Jesus placed on His lap served as an object lesson to teach us what He truly values.
What a person feels when he or she thinks about little children (for children are more about feelings than ideas) reveals much about that person. A little child makes it clear as to what he or she is: someone who needs love and care. Little children trust and are not secure if left alone without gentle arms to hold them. They cry sad little tears and wonder where their mommies are. They surrender to expressing their fears and neediness. They picture what the psalmist said: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, oh God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).
Two: When Can a Little Child Be Born Again?
Jesus commanded His disciples to bring the little children to Him. A child has to ask Jesus to come into his or her heart. We have to come into our own personal relationship with Jesus. We are unhardened soil before the cares of this world jade our hearts. When we grow to the point that we can understand what Jesus did for us on the Cross, we can be born again. We must plant seeds and water these seeds constantly as children grow. An example of one way to do this is to sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” to them every day from the time they are born, especially as they go to sleep.
We have to remember they are children. One of our grandsons, after we told him Jesus died on the cross for his sins so he could go to heaven someday, was asked whether he wanted to be saved and he answered, “No, because I don’t want to die yet.” Later, while he was swimming in the family pool, he began talking about heaven. My wife asked him again if he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. He said yes, he did, but he wanted to do it underwater. My wife then told him, “That’s fine. Just open your whole heart and ask Jesus to come in and wash away your sins.” He submerged and was underwater for a minute or more, and my wife began to worry. Finally, he came up with a big smile on his face and said he’d asked Jesus to come into his heart. He was a happy boy and has felt he knows Jesus from that day forward. I’ve wondered several times if he wasn’t saved and baptized at the same time, which is something I never had heard of before.
Children need children’s Bibles as this makes it possible to begin reading God’s Word to them from the beginning. Pictures and stories that are at children’s level are a great help in beginning to develop a love for the Bible. Our youngest granddaughter began bringing me her children’s Bible at age 2. She would crawl up on my lap and sit there enraptured for two or three stories at a time. She had this habit for many months. These are precious memories that abide in this grandpa’s heart.
One of our daughters asked Jesus into her heart at age 4. We were a bit concerned about whether she really understood until she started inviting her little friends into her bedroom to ask Jesus into their hearts. She also had begun reading at 3 and had her own library card. Later, we found out when she was tested that she had a gifted IQ and abstract ability. Some children can let Jesus into their hearts at an early age. One thing parents should be very careful with is disobeying their Lord and refusing to bring their little children to Jesus. Plant seeds, and allow little ones freedom, but don’t forget you must bring the little one to Jesus. Don’t cry heartbroken tears about a little one who was taken early and you are not sure whether they were old enough to be saved.
I conducted a funeral for a beautiful little blond-headed 4-year-old girl who had found one of her grandmother’s high blood pressure pills and thought it was candy. I’ll never forget watching her grandmother have a heart attack at the little one’s open casket. That was a horror story that left pictures in my mind that I wish would go away.
Be vigilant in regard to your little ones’ spiritual health so you can rest assured they know Jesus. Don’t leave them behind with doubt in your mind.
Remember that children have to let Jesus into their hearts just as you did. Remember, Jesus commanded us to “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).
A child’s value is given above in Jesus’ words. He said nothing is more valuable than His children as the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Their value to Almighty God is illustrated by the riches He freely gives to them because He is their Father and His love is divine.
God’s children are His heirs, and the riches of His kingdom are theirs.
Dr. Segress is a retired licensed marriage, family and child psychotherapist and college child psychology professor.