People that go by appearance and religious tradition will miss the spiritual potential that children have.
For many years, children in the church were relegated to the back room of Sunday School classes. The instruction given to them was little more than spiritual babysitting. Much of the ministry for them was done in a boring, traditional manner that really didn’t relate to them, therefore the fruit born was minimal at best.
If we will go by God’s Word, we will see the importance of training children, and their spiritual acumen as defined by scripture.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. (Ps. 8:2)
God here is talking about children. Not just spiritual children, but literal children. Babes are very small people, and sucklings are those that still nurse. So this is all about young children, even those in the nursery.
He goes on to say that out of their mouth he has ordained strength, or another word for strength is praise. Jesus himself quotes this scripture in Matthew 21:16.
This is the account of Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. As he came into town, multitudes of people spread their garments in the street and cut down branches of trees and laid them in his path.
They also began to praise and worship him, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” The people were praising and worshipping Jesus. Many thought he was about to take over the government and defeat Roman rule in Israel.
After this, Jesus healed the blind and lame in the temple doing marvelous miracles.
Verse 15 declares, “When the chief priests and scribes (the religious leaders of the day, which tells me if you view children religiously, you’ll miss their potential) saw,” here’s what they saw.
First, they saw the wonderful things he did (the miracles) and, secondly, they saw the children crying in the temple saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were sore displeased (that means indignant).
Religious people get very upset and indignant about the miracles and children being spiritual. Why? To the natural mind it is not rational. Therefore they dismiss it because they can’t figure it out.
But look at Jesus’ reply. Verse 16 “Yea, have you never read (today’s translation, “Don’t you boys read your Bibles?”) out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God has perfected praise.”
Now get hold of this; Jesus called children’s praise perfected praise. That word perfected actually means completed, or mature. Another word I like here is fresh. That means full of life, not dead or religious.
Jesus quoted Psalm 8:2 and used the word praise for strength. When we learn the importance and power of praise that comes out of our mouth, it is a source for strength in our lives, but also a weapon against our enemy, Satan.
This is not only for adults, but children also. I want to point out two things about these scriptures that I have experienced first hand.
Children Are Imitators
Notice the children in Matthew 21:15 were saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” How did they know to say that? Because they heard their parents saying it in verse nine. Children learn by doing what they see adults do.
One day at my house my granddaughter Ryan (2 years old at the time) asked me, “Papa, can I preach?”
I said, “Sure, Ryan, I want you to preach.”
She said, “I need a microphone” (She likes to use a cell phone as a play-like microphone.)
We got her a microphone and she stood by the footstool for a pulpit. Then she said, “Let’s praise the Lord.” She began to sing the Hallelujah Chorus swaying back and forth. She would look around the room and if someone wasn’t singing she would look at them and say, “Wont you praise him?” with her little arms lifted to heaven.
Where did she pick that up? Watching adults in her nursery class at church. Her mother also sets an example for her by singing and praising God in their home.
I believe if we will lay that kind of foundation in our babies when they are young, it will plant something about God in their lives that will serve them eternally. That’s what is referred to in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Children Can Access God’s Presence
They do this by singing and praising God. Notice Psalm 8:2, the second part of the verse. “That thou might (through praise) still (stop) the enemy the avenger.”
Proper praise releases God’s power to stop the devil’s work in the lives of people, including children.
Acts 2:17 tells us in the last days (I believe that is these days), God’s spirit will be poured out on all flesh, and the first group mentioned are sons and daughters.
May the Lord Jesus open our eyes to the spiritual potential of children.
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