In the wonderful work of training our children, it is not given parents to set the standard for acceptable behavior even though it is critically important that an ideal be revealed and its attainment diligently sought. If God had left each parent to determine these vital matters, there would be a very wide range of standards indeed, and all of them far too low for divine acceptance. Such a situation could only lead to great confusion and distress.
These difficulties are solved by no less a Person than God Himself, who has set the standard for childhood behavior. Its level is so exalted as to surpass the highest expectations of the human mind, for it is nothing short of perfection. There is no difference between what the Lord requires of children and what He expects of adult Christians so far as the quality of their obedience is concerned. Of course, adults with their increased capacities can render a much larger service than little children, and God expects each to serve according to his or her capacities, but the same perfect root must be the foundation of every true Christina ‘s behavior.
The command to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect is a frightening and discouraging commission until it is truly realized that this command is a promise. In other words, “As the will of man co-operates with the will of God it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in his strength. All His biddings are enablings.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 333.
Therefore the directive to be perfect is in fact God’s promise that He Himself will perfect the believer who cooperates with Him. It is God’s work to achieve this wonderful ideal, not ours. Certainly, we have a part to play, but it is the Almighty who, through His creative power, will make men perfect. Scripture after scripture testifies to this truth.
“God has made provision that we may become like unto Him, and He will accomplish this for all who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate His grace.” Thoughts from Mount of Blessing, 76.
“The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men, and would love them even as He loves His Son. Christ was to complete His work, and fulfill His pledge to ‘make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.’ Isaiah 13:12. All power in heaven and on earth was given to the Prince of Life, and He returned to His followers in a world of sin, that He might impart to them of His power and glory.” The Desire of Ages, 790.
It is essential for all those who would lead their children into the joy of salvation and Christian perfection, that they have very clear and decided views of what the divine standard is for the little ones. If care is not taken to acquire this, they will aim far too low, will consequently achieve less than the Lord can accept, and will doom their children to eternal destruction when they should have been blessed with eternal life. Therefore, adequate time must be devoted to diligent searing of the Scriptures until the will of God for the children is truly understood. Even then there must be no stopping place, no relaxation of effort. Much further consideration must be given to the matter to ensure that the freshness and power in the theme does not wane but rather grows brighter and more impressive every day.
If it is not learned now that there exists only one standard acceptable to God both for children and adults, it will later be discovered on the great day of final reckoning that the Lord does not have a variety of standards for those who would enter the kingdom. It will then be seen, too late, that the children have been measured against the same undeviating standards of righteousness and truth as everyone else.
Despite this, a unified and consistent concept of what normal infant, child, and adolescent disposition and behavior should be, is not in circulation today. What one parent will accept as the best that can be expected, another will barely tolerate, and yet another will reject as unacceptable and unendurable. Some will be criticized as overly lenient and inconsistent, while others will be charged with harshness and even cruelty. Generally speaking though, it is amazing to see what adults will tolerate is the “best that can be expected” from their children. They seem totally prepared to suffer embarrassment, disobedience, tantrums, rebellion, and disloyalty as a matter of course. How sad to see them put through such agonies when there is no need for it.
When we compare the best that we thought we could expect from our children with what Christ achieved as the model child, boy, youth, and man, we suddenly realize that we have been fumbling around in the lowlands and that we need to begin scaling the heights which we previously thought to be unclimable.
Among all those who are dedicated to achieving God’s purpose in the saving of their children, this confusion must end. These many and varied standards must be replaced with a common awareness of what the children of Christian parents should be.
How is this to be achieved? Will it be the product of consensus among parents, church leaders, educators, administrators, and law enforcement agencies? This would be expecting far too much. So disperate are the concepts held by the individuals occupying these various positions that it would be impossible for them to agree on what the ideal child should be like. All of them would see their target below the divine standard for childhood behavior. Even if they could work out some compromise acceptable to all, they would never be able to harmonize on the procedures by which a child was to be raised. Therefore, it must be recognized that no help is to come from these sources, for human beings do not have the answers to these weighty matters as their track record proves. Not even God’s own people have been able to consistently bring up children blessed with Christian perfection.
There is only One who can reveal the truth on this subject—the almighty Sovereign of the universe. He is the infinite Source of light on this subject as He is on all other matters, while we remain dependent, helpless receivers. Without Him we can know and achieve nothing. Far more than we could every realize, is His dedicated desire to impart to us the light on child training. He wants the little ones to be saved. He desires that they shall be rescued from evil at the earliest possible moment in their lives, filled with His righteousness, and raised as living witnesses to His power and glory.
Therefore, it must be expected that He has communicated in the clearest way possible, a living picture of what every child can be and is to be. That, praise His holy name, He has done, not just in words of instruction, but in the way we can understand best—in a living example and perfect demonstration. That model is found in the impeccable life of Jesus as a newly born infant, tiny toddler, growing child, robust boy, and splendid youth. At every stage of His development, His life was a living witness to what we can be at the same age level. That one perfect pattern is to be the constant study of every parent. It removes all assumptions and guesswork in regard to what parents are to expect in their children’s development.
“Jesus is the perfect pattern, and it is the duty and privilege of every child and youth to copy the pattern. Let children bear in mind that the child Jesus had taken upon Himself human nature, and was in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was tempted of Satan as all children are tempted. He was able to resist the temptation of Satan through His dependence upon the divine power of His heavenly Father, as He was subject to His will, and obedient to all His commands. He kept His Father’s statutes, precepts, and laws. He was continually seeking counsel of God, and was obedient to His will .Sons and Daughters of God, 128
“He was a perfect pattern for all youth.” Sons and Daughters of God, 130.
“Jesus was the pattern for children, and He was also the father’s example.” The Desire of Ages, 515.
Jesus has an infinite love for and interest in children. One reason for this is that He sees the tremendous potential in them. He knows what mighty forces for good they can and will become if they are His from their earliest moments, and are rightly trained thereafter. Parents will manifest a large degree of the same love for and interest in their children when they realize the possibilities to be developed in them.
Parents who are prepared to claim the promises and aim for these high ideals, need to make an earnest study of Christ’s life from infancy to manhood so that they will always have the perfect pattern before them.
A beautifully symmetrical character; a peculiar loveliness of disposition; an unfailing willingness to serve others; patience that could not be disturbed, and a truthfulness that would never let Him stoop to tell a lie regardless of the pressure – what desirable characteristics in every youthful member of every family!
What a child! How different He was from even the best that we know today, but in no wise other than what every youngster can be, for:
“Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did.” The Desire of Ages, 70.
Jesus serene, pure life, lived in the midst of the corruption of His time, was like the sweetness and purity of a lily growing in the midst of thorns. So too may be the lives of everyone of our children.
In the Scriptures is a brief record of the childhood, youth, and early manhood of Jesus. It is a beautiful and thrilling account, but no longer is it to be read only as the revelation of the beauty and power of Christ’s life. It is to be earnestly and confidently contemplated as the prophecy of what every Christian child is to be. Parents, grasp this marvelous record as the assurance and promise that, once the diving provisions have been correctly applied, your children will possess the same qualities and powers.
Then you will be able to testify to the truth that: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His 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.” Psalm 127:3-5.