Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This is a devotional that I gave at a recent baby shower. The topic was prompted by some thoughts I’ve had while talking to a few different ladies over the past few months. I realize that these mothers love their children but sometimes I wonder what that really means to them. There was a mixture of women there, including some singles, which is why sometimes I refer to women who have children around them. It may not be exactly as spoken since I’m transcribing from my notes, which weren’t complete.

Children are a Treasure from the Lord

Ps. 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Steve Green sang a song years ago entitled “Children are a Treasure From the Lord”. The complete lyrics are at the end of this talk.

It’s easy to say that children are a treasure or a heritage but I was thinking recently about whether we really mean it. Because if we mean it, we need to act in certain ways or it shows we don’t really mean it. As women of God, whatever situation God has placed us in, whether we are young mothers, singles or grandmothers, how should we act toward the children around us?

There are three ways to consider this. We’ll be considering how we think, speak and act.

Titus 2:4,5 tells the older women “that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

I always think it’s interesting that older women are to teach younger women to love their husbands and children. We tend to think that it’s something that will come naturally but Paul recognized that we all need to grow in this area.

The first way we can consider how we treasure how children is how we think about them. What we think makes a difference to how we act. How do we think about the children around us?

“Those rotten kids” or “those interesting kids”?

Do we dwell on the negative or do we look for the positive? Do we look forward to being involved in their lives or do we look for ways to have them not involved with us? Sometimes women can get so focussed on doing their own thing, they fail to look forward to being with their children and enjoying them. Our thoughts will be reflected in our attitudes.

The second way to show how we treasure our children is how we speak. I’ve come to realize how important how I speak is to my attitude and to the people around me. I think there’s two ways to consider our speech regarding the children around us: how we speak to them and how we speak about them.

First, to them.

Are we speaking to our children in a way that is glorifying to God? I Cor. 13 is a familiar passage – do we speak in a way that is kind? Are our words rude, are we easily provoked to anger? Is the Fruit of the Spirit evident in the way that we talk? Are we patient and kind? Self-controlled?

When we correct our children, do we yell at them or are we calm in our discipline? I think it’s important to think about how we speak to them in this area. My mom used to say that as a teacher and then later as a mom, she found that the most effective way to deal with children when disciplining them was to whisper. It gets their attention much faster than yelling at them, it’s hard to escalate whispering during an argument and it keeps everyone calm. Proverbs is indeed right when it says that a soft answer turns away wrath. Remember that when we are disciplining, the goal is have their hearts changed, not to just punish them or change their behaviour.

Part of speaking to our children is setting clear boundaries and expectations. How can they know to be obedient unless they know what the expectations are? Last June, Pastor Kenneth Maresco at Covenant Life church gave two messages to parents on parenting. In them, he taught that if we haven’t trained our children to do something, such as greeting people with “hello”, then we shouldn’t punish them for not doing it. It was such a good reminder to me how important training is and the role that it plays in discipline.

Finally, as we speak to them, are we praising them when it’s appropriate? Do we “catch them doing good”? If we never speak positively to our children and praise them when they are obedient, why would they want to pursue obedience?

Now let’s consider how we speak about our children. I have learned throughout my marriage that I need to be careful how I speak about my husband to others. I need to be careful not to tear him down to others, even in a joking way, but rather build him up. I need to be discreet.

Prov. 11:22 says “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.” You may have noticed that Paul tells Titus to tell the older women to teach the younger women to be discreet. It’s an important character quality and it doesn’t just apply to our relationship with our husbands – it also applies to how we speak about our children.

I have heard words coming out of my mouth that would be hurtful to my children if they heard. Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote the Anne books, often relates about her characters that they remember older people speaking negatively about them when they were young and the hurts that these women carried with them for the rest of their lives. Our words can hurt and moreover, they can help or hinder a child’s behaviour. If a child is constantly hearing his mother refer to him as a brat or that he’s unhelpful in so many ways, it’s no wonder if he does indeed live up to her expectations!

Remember to be positive to others about your children – brag on them! Watch for their gifts and accomplishments and tell others about them. Not in a bragging way but be thankful for what God has done in their lives and what he is doing in your life through them.

But some might be wondering – what if you have questions or concerns about your child’s behaviour? Don’t talk about it in general company but instead take your concerns to a trusted older woman and look for her advice. Your attitude makes a difference – are you complaining or honestly looking for advice?

We have looked at how we think and speak about our children in ways that show we treasure them. Now I’d like to consider practical ways in the way that we act.

It’s important to spend time with our children. That doesn’t mean just being in the same house but setting aside time to do things with them that they would enjoy. When your child is speaking to you, stop what you are doing and look at them as they talk. I often listen with half an ear and I end up missing what they are saying. So I’m learning to stop and look at them.

Another way to show that we treasure our children is to discipline them as they need it. There are many great resources for helping us train our children in the way of the Lord. If we don’t discipline them, how can we say that we treasure or value them?

Enjoy your children and count your blessings daily. My oldest is 14 – believe me, those years go by quickly. Ask any grandma!

Don’t always be looking for ways to be separated from them. It is important to spend time with your husband but it doesn’t have to be as often as sometimes we are told. It’s important for women to be able to do the hobbies they enjoy but recognize that sometimes, the season of life you are in will not allow a lot of free time, especially for those with preschoolers. And choose activities that are family-oriented, even for trips and holidays. Just enjoy being together as a family!

The most important way to treasure them, of course, is to teach them about their need for a Saviour. Teach them to pray. Read the Bible together. Go to church every week as a family. Talk about the things of the Lord every day. And if you have a Christian heritage, be thankful for it. Treasure it and pass on to your children a desire and hunger for the Lord. Only He can move in their hearts but we as parents can nurture our children so they are open to the leading of the Lord.

Treasure your children by not comparing them to others. How often do we come home from church or a school event, discouraged because our child is not just like little Johnny. Instead, look for the gifts and abilities that God has given our children. Maybe we do need to do some further training to help our children behave in a way that is appropriate to the occasion but don’t compare them to other children.

Finally, build family traditions. They won’t be the same as any other family’s traditions but they will be yours. Again, don’t compare but you can take ideas from others. Just don’t expect it to look exactly the same! But building traditions together binds a family together and shows children that we love and value our family just the way God has put it together.

I referred to Steve Green’s song earlier. Here are the lyrics to close:

Children are a Treasure from the Lord

Halls ring with echoes of laughter
Long after they've come and gone
For the memory of a tiny face and playful grin
Still brings a smile, reminding us again
That children are a treasure from the Lord

Songs sweetly sung by the cradle
Prayers whispered just before bed
And we taught them "Jesus loves you" in a simple song
And we pray they won't forget their whole life long
Children are a treasure from the Lord
Those bright and trusting eyes
Seem to take us by surprise
And they see what others older seem to miss
May the gift of faith they hold Grow as they grow old
May they always know God will never let them go

At six they're beginning their school days
Sixteen and they're driving the car
And at twenty-one we'll let them go on their first date
But of course they'll be at home in bed by eight
Yes, children are a treasure from the Lord

Homes ring with echoes of laughter
Long after they've come and gone
And just knowing that our children really love the Lord
Is a faithful parent's passion and reward,
children are a treasure from the Lord
Children are a treasure from the Lord
Yes, children are a treasure from the Lord

Words and music by Jon Mohr, Phil Naish and Greg NelsonCopyright 1989 Feed and Seed Music/LCS Songs (a div. of Lorenz Creative Services)/Pamela Kay Music/Beckengus Music/Greg Nelson Music. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

May God bless you and the children you interact with and may you build a closer relationship with them as you treasure the gift they are from God.


MagistraCarminae said...

What a great idea for a devotional! I have to do one at a wedding shower, and was planning to use the same Titus scripture next week. Maybe I'll "borrow" the idea: how do we practoically think, speak and act our love for our husbands? :-)

Chris in NM

Juanita said...

You are more than welcome to borrow the idea, Chris! I think it would be great at a wedding shower too.