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The 'Problem' With Children

(By Rob McLeod)

"Inconvenient. Expensive. Accidents. Draining. Career Killers"

All of these terms have been frequently used to describe the ‘destructive impact’ that children have on their parents. Evidently this thinking has impacted one’s preferred family size. In the early 1800s an American woman would, on average, have between 7 and 8 live births in the course of her reproductive lifetime. Birth rates have typically been on the decline ever since. Now in the 21st century, the average American woman has fewer than two live births during her life. The projected 2021 Canadian fertility rate, at 1.5 live births per woman, is even less than that of the USA.

It is true that parents must sacrifice much in terms of finance, energy, and time when it comes to raising their children. We cannot minimalize this and say that there is no cost. Indeed there is a great cost. But on this sacrificial journey of parenting, the key is to see the present and eternal value that our Lord places upon children. Let’s take a quick look at why the Lord values children.

(i) Human beings are called to be image bearers
(‘imagers’) of God. This includes children!

Genesis 1:26-27 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Because every human being has the capacity to bear the image and likeness of their Creator they are intrinsically valuable. No wonder then that Satan minimalizes the worth of children. Satan despises anyone that reminds him of the Lord. Our enemy’s desire is to disparage and destroy any person that might display the Lord on this earth.

(ii) Children are prospective workers in the Lord’s
economy and kingdom.

A child’s true worth and purpose will be discovered when they submit their lives to Christ and actively participate in furthering His church and kingdom on earth. Psalm 8:2 gives a glimpse of this. It says, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger.” In His divine plan the Lord has chosen to use redeemed human beings to build His kingdom. And guess what? All adults were once children. Even our Lord Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby. In Matthew 2 we see that King Herod’s fear of being usurped by another was a personal motivation to attempt to kill Jesus while a young child. Similar to King Herod, Satan doesn’t want to be usurped in any area. We see in Revelation 12:11 that human beings have a crucial participatory role in overcoming Satan—“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Is it no wonder that Satan then despises the fruit of the womb? Today, via abortion, we  sadly observe that a mother’s womb is one of the most dangerous places for a child to be. 

(iii) Children are a reward not a loss!

Points (i) and (ii) begin to unpack why children are intrinsically valuable. Let’s consider some Scripture that specifically describes children as a reward. Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” The following Psalm also describes the worth of family. Psalm 128:1-4 says, “Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.”

(iv) God has children too!

When we are born again we become the spiritual offspring of the Lord. God is the Father of our regenerated spirit as we are brought, spiritually speaking, from certain eternal death to new life. Hebrews 12:9 teaches “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?” Over the centuries the Lord has been building His family out of every “tribe and tongue and people and nation” in order to produce a Kingdom of kings and priests for Himself on the new earth. (Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 21:2-3) For this we can praise our Saviour with the words of 1 John 3:1-2—“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

(v) Childlike faith and humility are pictures of what mature believers should evidence.

In Matthew 18 Jesus taught that we need to come to Him with childlike faith and dependence. “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:2-4) Children are highly dependent upon their parents for food, clothing, shelter, and basic training. On the surface children appear to have very little to offer their parents when young. However, how blessed a parent is when their children begin to grow in obedience and wisdom. It is the same with our spiritual Father; 3 John 4 says “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Just as a baby is desperate for its mother’s milk so spiritual babies are to “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2) The faith that children place in their parents is frequently convicting. Young children especially tend to take at face value what their parents say, even when their parents are not trustworthy. Similarly, we must also rest ourselves in the hands of our loving and sovereign spiritual Father. His words are always trustworthy. “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.” (Psalm 12:6-7)

Perhaps it is now time for a bit of a caution. You are not automatically more pleasing than another believer merely because you are married and are willing to have (or have had) a large family. 1 Corinthians 13 clearly teaches that people can appear to do some amazing things for the Lord, yet without love it will profit them nothing in the Lord’s eyes. Also in 1 Corinthians 4:5 we read: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels [that is, motives] of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” Why we do something is as important to the Lord as what we actually do! Other passages (Matthew 19:12; 1 Corinthians 7) teach that believers may be called to remain single for the greater cause of the Kingdom. Other couples struggle with fertility and health issues when trying to conceive. Scripture presents numerous examples (Genesis 15; 1 Samuel 1; Luke 1) where the difficulty of conception actually furthered the Lord’s purposes. Our responsibility is to go before the Lord, discern His direction in these matters and then obey. In doing this let’s not believe the lie that children are a detriment rather than a divinely bestowed blessing.