Every time I held my little baby in my arms, and looked into his bright, blue eyes, I felt like I was looking right into heaven. It often made me think of what Jesus said: “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:5.
This little bundle of joy truly is a heavenly gift, fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted together in my womb by the Almighty God himself. And those clear, pure eyes reflect the heavenly beauty and purity, and mirror the completely innocent consciousness of a possessor of the kingdom of heaven.
“For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Of course a little baby doesn’t have much consciousness. In that sense he’s like a blank slate, knowing neither good nor evil.
Initially a baby just acts based on his instincts. When hungry he starts to cry, for example. It takes a long time before children become fully aware of their actions, and even longer before they understand the consequences of these actions.
This consciousness grows gradually, and I it’s my job as a parent to guide them through this process, and help them understand why some things are right and other things are wrong. In that way I help form their consciences, their inner moral compass.
Doing the right thing isn’t easy
Although most grown people have a general understanding of right and wrong, we at the same time experience it’s not that easy to do the right thing.
We notice these strong internal desires which draw us towards making the wrong choices in many situations. As naturally self-centered human beings, we want to keep things for ourselves instead of sharing with others, for example. And we envy people who have more than we have.
The Bible describes this as “the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Our human nature is focused on fulfilling its own needs and desires, it wants do its own will.
However, the Bible tells us to do the exact opposite: to deny ourselves, to reject our selfish desires, and do the will of God instead, which is: to love Him above all and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
God didn’t give his Word because He wants to make life difficult for us. He knows that our human desires will never be truly satisfied. We won’t become happy when we chase after fulfilling our own lusts, that just leads to emptiness. We will only become truly content and full of joy when we serve Him and live every day to glorify Him!
Teaching children about sin
Doing the wrong thing – going against God’s will, that’s sinning. But to be held accountable for sin, you need at least to have some knowledge about what God’s will is. Apostle Paul writes that God will judge people according to their conscience, and according to their own thoughts that accuse or defend them (Romans 2:14-18).
That’s why I tell my children that if they deliberately do something they know is wrong, because it goes against their conscience – that little voice inside – that is committing sin.
And sin makes things ugly. It makes you feel angry inside, and sad, and miserable. It defiles your conscience, contaminates your mind – or, as I often put it: it stains your heart.
Blessed are the pure in heart
Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. It’s of vital importance to keep your heart pure! You should protect it, and watch over it:
“Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.”
This is what I teach my children as they are growing up. Listen carefully to that soft inner voice! Don’t let sin enter your heart; reject it as soon as the temptation shows up. And keep away from situations where you know you will be tempted – flee from it!
And when things have gone wrong – when they fell into sin: it’s important to confess and repent, ask God and the people you’ve hurt for forgiveness, and put your affairs in order. In that way, your heart is completely pure again! And you will experience God’s blessing over your life.
On the same side
Apostle Paul describes his inner life as a battlefield: the desire of the flesh, the human nature, contradicts the desire of the Spirit (Romans 6, 7, 8, Galatians 5). His mind – the part of him that truly wants to serve God – is at war with the sin it his flesh.
I can only help my children if I acknowledge that I have the same ‘problem’. I have selfish desires just like my children, and I feel drawn towards the same sins as they do. Hey – they are my kids, so from whom did they inherit these inclinations in the first place?
When I think of that, it softens my heart. It helps me to meet their mistakes and poor choices with grace and mercy. Yes, I often need to firmly address the issue, but at the same time I know that it’s a battle. I know that even when you truly want to do good, evil is right there, and Satan is trying to deceive you to do the opposite.
But we have a Savior! We have a High Priest in heaven, who wants to give us grace and help in the time of need. When we have set our minds to do good, and we have an intense longing to do God’s will – then we have Jesus on our side: the One who has been given all power in heaven and on earth! He wants to help us to guard our hearts against all sin and evil that is trying to enter through our heart’s door. And with Him beside us, we are able withstand and be victorious!
Being an example for my children
For me that’s a very hopeful thought! Jesus wants to help us to become overcomers. Not that I expect my children to be perfect and make no mistakes – on the contrary. They are just kids.
But I am their role model. It’s my responsibility to show them how to overcome evil with good, how to forgive when someone has really hurt you, how to respond patiently even when you feel frustration bubbling up inside. Also how to ask for forgiveness when you mess up, when you made a wrong decision, or when you’ve misjudged a situation.
They look up to me! How can I teach them to guard their hearts, if I don’t take this seriously and let sin slip into my thought life? How can I help them, if my own heart is stained with jealousy, impure thoughts, judgment toward others?
The biggest help I can give my children is to keep my own heart pure, and fight for this purity every day of my life, with all diligence. Then waters of life will spring forth from it, and will bless my children and everyone else around me.
Isn’t that the best invitation to live a pure life with God?