As A Little Child
Yahshua said "Verily I say unto you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)
Picture little children you know and observe. Exactly what did Yahshua have in mind? The child throwing a tantrum? The one pushing a playmate? The one tormenting a stray dog? The one screaming obscenities they’ve learned? The one destroying the surroundings? Somehow that doesn’t make sense.
In the previous verse, He had called a little child to Him. Note -- the child came! He didn’t run the other way, laughing. Yahshua set the child in the midst of them and continued talking. Do you imagine that He held the child down or talked above screaming?
Also in Mark 10:13-16, it relates that He took young children up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them. Could He do that today without children kicking, flailing and screaming to be put down?
The kingdom of Yahweh is pictured in Isaiah 11:1-12. It talks about the animals and how they will all be tame. At the end of verse 6, it says, "and a little child shall lead them." Can you picture this? It says lead -- not chase, tackle, ride, goad, aggravate, etc.
Wait a minute! Are these scriptures describing the children of today? Not likely. Today children are "hyper". There are all kinds of diagnoses that make up for their lack of behavior. They are not taught obedience, proper behavior, how to listen, how to sit still, respect for others and their property. Don’t believe me? Just talk to teachers and principals. They really don’t care if the child can read or do math when he enters kindergarten -- as long as he can sit down, be quiet and follow directions. Then he can be taught what he needs to know. Many teachers today are leaving the work force because they fear for their own safety. What? These are children we’re talking about!
So what’s gone wrong? Can we blame the children? No. They came into this world knowing nothing and whatever their behavior, that is what has been taught. Blame the schools? Or the teachers? No. These behaviors and attitudes are already ingrained into the children long before they ever reach the doors of the school. That only leaves one other answer. Doesn’t it, parents? NO! Don’t stop reading!
The children you have are a heritage of Yahweh (Psalms 127:3). You don’t own them, but Yahweh loans them to you to rear and to teach. And, in His Word, He does give us some clues on what to do. Or not do.
We are to teach these children. Not just when it is convenient, but all the time. "And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Teach all the time. Doesn’t leave a lot of time for individual, mindless pursuits like video games, movies, tv programs and such, does it? But board games, walking in the park, playing outside, working in the garden, putting together a meal, folding laundry, etc, provides plenty of time for you to talk to your children. And for you to listen to them. You might be surprised what you can learn!
But go back to verse 6. Teach what words? In the previous chapter are listed what we call the ten commandments, or the ten words. Have you ever discussed these with your children? I have heard children recite these word for word, but have no idea what they mean. So what’s that worth? Tell them, appropriate for each age, what these mean and how they apply to them.
#1 -- Deuteronomy 5: 6-7 -- "I am Yahweh your Elohim, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall have none other gods before me."
Do your children know who Yahweh is? Or is it only a strange name they hear you use from time to time? Do they know the name of His Son and what His Son
did for them?
#2 -- Deuteronomy 5: 8-10 -- "You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I Yahweh your Elohim am a jealous El, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments."
Okay, so you don’t have a graven image like the pagans. But how much importance do you place on your home? Your car? Job? A trophy you’ve won? An expensive television? Entertainment? What takes time that you could be devoting to Yahweh? It has been said that whatever comes between you and Yahweh is an idol.
#3 -- Deuteronomy 5: 11 -- "You shall not take the name of Yahweh your Elohim in vain: for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain."
Teach them the names of Yahweh and Yahshua and the importance of them. They should be taught to use them with respect and their actions should show that they carry His name. How much emphasis do you place on your personal family name?
#4 -- Deuteronomy 5: 12-15 -- "Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as Yahweh your Elohim has commanded you. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of Yahweh your Elohim,: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that Yahweh your Elohim, brought you out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to keep the sabbath day."
Are you and your children setting Shabbat apart for Yahweh? Do you attend services as often as you can? Or do you use the day to do your own pleasure?
#5 -- Deuteronomy 5: 16 -- "Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your Elohim has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which Yahweh your Elohim gives you."
What does it mean to honor someone? It certainly doesn’t mean to put down, insult, sass or shut out. Notice Exodus 21:15, 17 -- "And he that smites his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that curses his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death." Pretty strong punishment, huh? But how many parents do you see today who give in to demanding, conniving, over-bearing children? Not always young ones, either. The parents are allowing it.
#6 -- Deuteronomy 5: 17 -- "You shall not kill."
Today the numbers of children killing other children -- or their parents -- is ever growing. What an outrage that affects many each time it happens. But Yahshua said we are not to even be angry with another. It puts us in danger of judgment. (Matthew 5:22)
Hatred is a taught attitude. I believe that if you took babies of different races and cultures and raised them as one, with no prejudices being introduced, they would not hate someone just for the color or their skin or physical characteristics. They have to be taught those things.
When I was about 5 years old, a black family came to pick cotton on our farm, working beside our family. They had a little girl the same age as myself. Was the color a problem? No way! It was another little girl to play with. Where we lived, playmates were a rarity and a treat.
#7 -- Deuteronomy 5: 18 -- "Neither shall you commit adultery."
At first, I started to back down on this one. After all, how much does a little child understand about this statement? But what influences them? What do they witness the older kids of the family or the neighborhood doing? What movies or tv programs do they watch? Many of them know more about the "facts of life" at 5 than I did at 15! They need to be allowed to be children and not grow up so fast. It only brings disappointment and heart break. They need time to learn what fidelity and commitment mean.
#8 -- Deuteronomy 5: 19 -- "Neither shall you steal."
It would be interesting to know the true statistics on shop-lifting. Some is done by thrill seekers, on a dare, but much is by greedy people. And we all end up paying a higher price later.
But stealing can take on many forms -- "borrowing" someone else’s toy, or sweater, or book; not giving correct change; shortage on measurements; cheating on games or schoolwork, etc. I’m sure you can think of many more examples. But it is still stealing -- taking something that is not rightfully yours.
#9 -- Deuteronomy 5:20 -- "Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor."
We are not to tell lies about another person. Period. Or even insinuate them. But also we need to own up to our own mistakes. Not do like the children in the Family Circle cartoons when questioned about who did something. The answers were either "Not me" or "I don’t know".
#10 -- Deuteronomy 5:21 -- "Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s wife, neither shall you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is your neighbor’s."
This one is hard because it involves personal thought. No one else can control this for you. We need to be like Paul -- "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11) Children need to be taught they simply can’t have everything they want. Period. They should learn to be happy with the things they do get.
Now go searching. These are only a very few of the laws that Yahweh gave His people. What else do you need to be teaching your children? Or doing in your own life?
All this needs to be started while the child is very young and malleable. Don’t wait too late. "Chasten your son while there is hope, and let not your soul spare for his crying." (Proverbs 19:18) This implies that there will be a time when it will be too late. When they leave your home, your teaching days may be ended forever. And whatever you have put into it, is what you will reap. But note the statement about his crying. If you correct a child and he is upset and crying, don’t give in to his demands just to get him to stop. If you plan to do that, there is no use in correcting at all.
"Train a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Training involves a lot more than an occasional "No" or "time out". If the behavior they exhibit is wrong, they need to be told or shown what to put in its place. Remember, the best teacher at your disposal is your example. What does yours say?
"Your wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of your house: your children like olive plants round about your table." What are olive plants like? Are they wild and unruly? Or are they stable and productive?
"Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaks vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace." What’s in your house? Which kind of children are you raising?
"And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor; the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable." Is this a blessing? Or a curse? Who rules your house? You, the adults? Or the children?
"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame." Left to himself? Where? What about when they are playing at home? Do you check on them occasionally? How about if you are in a public place or gathering? Or do you just wait for them to come to you?
"He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him betimes." Many child experts feel that a child’s little psyche may be damaged if they are told "No". That doesn’t seem to jibe with this scripture. If you say you love your child, you’d better know that people will know the truth of that because they will see whether or not you are correcting and teaching him.
When we first moved into our present meeting hall, we had very few children. But now, if they all came at the same time, we could quickly have 20 to 22, all under the age of 12! Now if their activities get carried away, it can become chaos and confusion, and it would be easy for someone to get hurt. Yahweh says He is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33).
If your child comes tearing through the room, pushing his way and knocks down an elderly person or hurts himself or someone else, are you ready to take on the responsibility? Sure, people and congregations may have insurance, but who is responsible for the conduct of that child? Do you really want to face that?
This whole issue of child-rearing practices and the following guidelines have come up because of witnessed behaviors of children in the congregations. The guidelines can be modified to fit any congregation as needed. Consider that when you come to services, you are bringing your children before Yahweh to formally worship Him. What does He see? Is He smiling down on wide-eyed, innocent, pliable little children? Or is He watching uncontrolled, disruptive behavior and frowning upon the parents? Just because you feel that the congregation is a safe place for children to move about and play freely and that no one will harm them there, it doesn’t mean it is okay to let them run wild and let everybody keep an eye on them. These are YOUR children -- Yahweh holds YOU responsible.