They are the most precious inheritance we leave here on this earth in every generation. Do we really understand the depth of our investment and accountability in them in regards to their overall mental health and well being? When I worked for a non-profit as a mental health consultant for early childhood, I understood this to a deeper level than what I ever believed before. We need to invest in our babies from the very beginning and we need to guard them throughout their childhood stubbornly and fiercely. If we do not teach our children to love and fear the Lord in this lifetime, then we have failed in the job that God gave us for such a time as this. And if we allow any harm to come to them when we have every opportunity to protect them, woe to us. This is our time as Dad and Mom’s and Leaders. Never exploit the children, but teach them in the way they should go.
While these commands were given to the children of Israel and are still relevant, they are also relevant to those that have been grafted in: the church.
“Here O Israel: The Lord our God , the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NIV
and then Jesus refers to little ones in the faith or children:
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.'”… Luke 17:1-3 NIV
The reason why these verses are so important is that is it shows how careful we need to be with those who are young and vulnerable who trust us as adults. Being an adult survivor of child abuse, I know the impact of it and how it can cause so much destruction in so many ways long into adulthood. As adults, we have a choice to stop generational sins and we can protect the threats of harm to little ones by not breaking their spirit and exasperating them. We can guard their mental health and their well-being, especially spiritually, by loving them well and honoring their preciousness before the Lord and letting them remain children. Crushing their spirit, allowing harm to them, contributing to their growing up before their time, can put them into harmful situations whether we intend it or not. Taking out our anger on them can damage them physically, emotionally and spiritually and set them up for later mental health issues as well as rebelliousness against us as parents and ultimately against God whom we are commanded to teach them how to love. This harm can unknowingly be done even with our best intentions as parents or leaders by putting them out there in the ‘limelight’ or giving them too much responsibility before they are ready or mature enough to handle it – we are always accountable. As adults we are too familiar with and know that harm comes, even unintentionally. What will be do to guard them so that doesn’t happen? Where is that fine line of letting them learn and protecting them?
It is truly important to love and obey God as an adult and to pass this on to your children in a LOVING way! How will you take responsibility of this in the life of your child? Or better yet, if you were a child that was embittered and harmed, how will you allow the spirit of God to re-parent you to learn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind? If you let Him do it, it can happen and you will experience great freedom! Your next generation will live a freedom like you will have never imagined, but will yet to live yourself! Go for it!