Children for God’s Glory
Once while a revival preacher returned home, he was asked about the souls who came forward in the meeting that night. He said he got two and a half souls. So his wife responded: Oh, two adults and a child! He said, ‘no, two children and an adult’. He gave the children full credit and the adult half a credit because his usable life span for Jesus was already half gone.
This truth is seen alive and well in the way Jesus handled children during his earthly ministry. Jesus attracted children to Him and blessed them by putting His hands on them (Matthew 19:15). He hugged them and showed special love to them (Mark 10:16). He used them as object lessons for those who were interested in going to heaven. He reprimanded his disciples for forbidding children from coming to Him (Matthew18:2-6). During His healing ministry, Jesus gave great emphasis to children whom he touched and healed on a few occasions. He raised up little children who were dead (Matthew (9:2-26). There were boys singing hosanna to Jesus even at the displeasure of the religious leaders (Matthew 21:15-16). Jesus especially praised the Father for revealing truth concerning Him to little children (Matthew 11:25). For Jesus children were very special to His heart and He valued them much. But by the way, Jesus handled children, the Bible shows the greatness and glory of Jesus and not that of the greatness of children because Jesus touched them. When Jesus blessed the children, their lives ended up in bringing glory to God.
Jesus’ Attitude to Children
There is no denying the fact that Jesus valued children from the angle of eternity. He has great plans for their lives and He wants to make use of them for His Kingdom. So Jesus shuns anyone who is a hindrance to children from coming to Him. Some religious leaders think that Jesus has far more serious things to do than spending time with children. Some others think that children will be interference into the time and ministry of Jesus. But Jesus proved it in the contrary. He kept telling His disciples that they should in no way hinder children from coming to His presence. For them religion is for the adults and the seniors and that children have nothing to do with it until they grow older. But Jesus proved to them that He takes glory to Himself through the life of a child who is fully surrendered to Him.
There are those who hinder children from going to Jesus through their unfriendly and legalistic behavior and attitude. There are others who engage in ungodly activities which shun children away. There are still others who verbally, physically or emotionally abuse children and create deep wounds in their hearts which are difficult to heal. There are also those who lure children into sinning early in life and they grow up in the depth of sin. Parents, teachers, media moguls and social networks are often used by the enemy to hinder children. But let us take a look at the great potential in each child if he or she is surrendered to Jesus at quite a young age. Jesus invites, welcomes and motivates children to come to Him for eternal changes in their life. When they surrender themselves and all that they have, it ends up in the glory of Jesus. He is exemplified in and through their surrendered lives. Others will see and believe that all that has happened in the lives of these children are because they came to Jesus and will glorify Him.
Boys or Girls
The Bible provides insights about the way God has used both boys and girls for His glory. A great example of a boy in the Old Testament whose life and ministry glorified God is Samuel. He was totally committed to serving God from his boyhood onward. He was trained by his mother to be a spiritual boy and that yielded excellent results throughout his ministry. Daniel, Joseph, and Timothy are other examples of boys whose lives glorified God and accomplished His purpose on earth.
An Obscure Girl
Among girls, the most outstanding is the Jewish girl who served in the house of Naaman, the Aramian General. She was able to help Naaman get full healing of his leprosy and to make him subsequently a believer in the God of Israel. Her willingness to speak on behalf of her God without fear or embarrassment brought great results in her life and that of her Master. Her service for God is never forgotten, but her name remains obscure. Heaven knows her name and she will be rewarded for her service. These and other examples show us how lives change dynamically when surrendered to God for His glory.
An Obscure Boy Too
In the Gospel of John, we read about an obscure boy whose identity is kept in the background by the Spirit of God (John 6:1-14). This boy attended the large gathering of people to listen to Jesus on the banks of Tiberius. He was hungry and tired and had a packet of poor boy’s lunch of five barley bread and two small fish. In a crowd of about 12,000 people in a thoroughly unorganized setting, it would be normally difficult to identify this boy with his lunch packet or for the boy to make the availability of his lunch known to apostles. He had every reason to keep his packet to himself and eat it silently without anyone finding fault with him. But he willingly came forward to surrender his lunch packet for whatever it could accomplish in the hands of Jesus. He had no idea how Jesus was going to make use of it. He was least concerned about the means or the technology Jesus was going to use, but he had the faith that something could be done with his lunch by Jesus. Probably he thought at least Jesus could eat it to satisfy himself. But this obscure boy was willing to make his packet known to others and to part with it without at least keeping something from it for himself. He is a prime example for a selfless boy. If he was unwilling to part with his lunch, it would have remained with him as an ordinary lunch, but when surrendered, the impact has become a few thousand folds, all for the glory of Jesus.
We do not see that Jesus tried to expose the boy for acclaim or recognition. Jesus kept him in the background and made sure that the glory of God will not be taken away by anyone in that crowd. We might expect that the boy and his lunch packet were in focus, but we see that it was Jesus who was in focus as the God of Glory. The number of people who ate, the way food was served and the way Jesus multiplied the bread and fish were also not the focus. It was Jesus and Him alone who received all glory through the surrender of an obscure boy and his willingness to share all that he had with Jesus.
What would have prompted this obscure boy to part with all that he had for Jesus? First, his heart would have been already sensitized about the teachings of the Messiah. Secondly, he would have listened to Jesus keenly which would have moved his heart. Thirdly he would have been moved by the great need and the desperate and helpless situation of having no food for the hungry people around. Fourthly he had the courage to make a quick decision about what to do with his lunch packet. Fifthly he would have believed that the Jesus who captured his heart through His message could change even inanimate things like bread and fish to make it a blessing to a large crowd. But little did he realize that his surrender was the only answer to the problems of the crowd and the apostles in the face of the most difficult circumstance. This obscure boy speaks to us today in loud and clear terms about what we can all accomplish in our lives if we submit ourselves to Jesus to do what He would want to do with us and our lives. This boy also speaks to all the boys and girls of this world and challenges them to consider submitting their lives to Jesus at the earliest possible age so that Jesus would get them throughout their lifespan for eternal use. His act of surrender made the large crowd to believe in Jesus because they saw the glory of Jesus in this miracle (John 6:14).
Lessons for our times
Surrendering to Jesus at the earliest possible age in life makes the potentials in a life much greater than otherwise. It cannot be done with ritualism or legalism, but with fully conscious decision to surrender oneself. So every child ought to be taught, trained, disciplined, led, guided, developed, monitored and evaluated for proper ways of spiritual understanding and growth. Children can be taught the ways of the Lord from the time they are able to communicate with their parents in some measure. We are instructed to teach them in the ways of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). All of these will lead them to become objects through which Jesus will then reveal His glory.
In training up a child, what is most important is to communicate with the child so that the child will understand the messages of God’s love, spirituality, and discipline. When we adopt the communication style of Jesus, it will help children to live a surrendered life for the glory of God. It will further help children to guard against getting into the rut of the sinful world. It will help others to see the glory of Jesus in the lives of such children. May He be glorified through all our lives, attitudes, and actions!