The Millstone Matters
Have you recently read Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:6? “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Obviously, Jesus valued children!
When we sin against children and cause them to sin, we seriously fail to celebrate kids. And, when we don’t see our own behavior as sin and we see no need to apologize or ask for forgiveness, we add to children’s pain. Such choices demonstrate how little we truly value children ¼ and how far we have to go to become more like Jesus.
I wonder how often children sin because we sin. Do they mess up because they’re following in our footsteps? Do we make them wait and that’s why they get angry? When we’re with friends, are they embarrassed when we share something from their past? Is that why they whine and carry on?
I wonder how often our own hypocrisy contributes to children’s rebellion. Do we interrupt them immediately after reminding them not to interrupt us? Do we tell them we’ll help with their homework, but keep texting friends instead? Then, rather than apologizing, do we act as though being unavailable is no big deal? Do we somehow make them regret asking for our help in the first place?
Causing children to sin is not the way to celebrate them. Owning up to it, when it happens, is. I don’t mean just privately acknowledging our sin to ourselves. Also, I don’t mean only confessing it to God. No, I mean talking directly with the children, saying “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Would you please forgive me?” Not only does such confession do wonders for the children, but for our soul, heart, and mind also. Seeking forgiveness and receiving it is mighty freeing!
Do Your Children Hear Anything?
But, when I probe children and teenagers, I learn they usually hear “I apologize” more often than, “Would you please forgive me?” And, too many don’t hear either.
In addition to admitting our sin, we must also choose not to sin again. New attitudes, new beliefs, and working to develop certain character qualities might be necessary. Learning to apologize, to ask for forgiveness, and to sin less are God-honoring and child-celebrating!
Truly understanding children’s value will influence our behavior. Go back to Jesus’ days with me. Can you see wide-eyed adults as they hear Him teach the truth recorded in Matthew 18:6? Not only are the children amazed to learn how important they are, but the adults’ faces register shock and disbelief, too, since they aren’t valuing or prioritizing children in thought or action. What about us today? I pray many of us will positively affect individuals, families, and society by believing, teaching, and living this truth: we celebrate kids when we value them as God does and when we interact with them as Jesus clearly showed us by His example.
If you have the courage to teach children they are valued, that our sin can cause their sin, and asking for and granting forgiveness are the correct responses, they’ll remind you of it! If your behavior toward them needs an adjustment, discussing these principles could be an effective way to improve. Do you dare?