Most of the time we hope to be a wise sage to our children. We want our lives to reflect principles and character that they can emulate. But the truth is, we can learn much from our children and copying their behavior. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." According to this Scripture, young people can set an example for us!
- Speech – How do children speak differently than adults? Children are not complicated with their speech. What they say is what they mean. Matthew 5:37 talks about this type of speech when it says, All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (NIV). Children are also not ashamed to talk about what they are excited about, or what they believe. Romans 1:16 in the Message says, "It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him,…” With time, adults often become so politically correct that it is difficult to hear their belief system by their speech. However, with children this is not the case. Although having some savvy when communicating our passions is learned and at times valuable practice, our speech should not be watered down to the point where we are no longer taking a stand for Christ. Luke 6:45 tells us that our mouth should be saying what our heart believes. If you are unsure what you truly believe and are convinced of, listen to the words that are coming from your mouth.
- Love – A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup For the Soul states true child-love as this: “Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."’ Child-like love doesn’t have an agenda. There is no self in it. Rather, it cares for others affectionately and tenderly. Romans 12:10 instructs, "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Children are able to love unreservedly because they haven’t yet experienced the wounds that love can bring.
- Faith – “The childlike faith that asks not sight, waits not for wonder or for sign, believes, because it loves, aright, shall see things greater, things divine”~ John Keble. Have you ever seen a child leap into a swimming pool into the arms of a parent? Unless they’ve had a bad experience, they jump in with great joy and delight, trusting that the parent is able to protect them from any mishap. When our Father beckons us, we need to do the same thing. Trusting God will always lead to see things the way God does, and He doesn’t have human eyes. He sees what can be as more of a reality than what is. Hebrews 11:3 states that this is how God created the world. "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." And Matthew 18:2-4, "And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." II Corinthians 5:7 says, "for we walk by faith, not by sight." Children have the ability to envision things that are not there. Most adults have fallen out of practice with this. We lose an invaluable skill when we fall out of practice of imagination. We are called to come to Him the way a child comes to Him. In fact, we can not even know Him until we are “born again.” We become a child once again, humbled and surrendered.
- Conduct & Purity – While love and faith seem to come naturally to a child, children have choices to make about upright living just like adults do. Proverbs 20:11 states, Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright? Faith and love are motivators; while speech, conduct and purity are the benefactors of this motivation.
When we allow faith and love to motivate everything we do, our actions will follow. Children raised in a healthy environment are able to love purely and believe without restraint. Perhaps this is why Jesus calls us to come to Him as little children. Perhaps He knows that when we have our loving and believing right, how we speak and act will fall into place without a lot of struggle. So here’s some advice after observing the children around me, Love with no reservation and leap before looking! With faith and love as our foundation, we can live a life bringing glory to the kingdom of God!