[Last week Shane Scott wrote an article entitled, “Back to School Reminders for Young Disciples” to help young believers excel spiritually in school this year. This article is aimed at equipping parents and friends with some strategies that will help our young people grow up right.]
Children are sponges. They soak up information at an amazing rate. They have to, because children are not born knowing everything…that doesn’t happen until they become teenagers. A child’s ability to learn is vital to developing the values and skills they need to live their lives.
Have you ever wondered what Jesus was like as a child? What made Him laugh when He was eight? How did he act as a teenager? Not much is recorded. Yet, there is a verse which provides a window through which we can see how Jesus grew up. The Bible says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52; see 1 Sam. 2:21,26; John 1:80). During His formative years Jesus grew in four important areas: mentally, physically, spiritually and socially.
What a joy it would be if all our little sponges could soak up those things like Jesus did. Imagine how useful they could be to God’s purposes in their generation!
Jesus Increased in Wisdom
When you read the teachings of Jesus you discover He had a broad knowledge about how the world works. He knew how seeds grow, vineyards are cultivated, and fish are caught and sorted. He knew why people fought, committed adultery, lied, and worried. This understanding gave Jesus the tools to teach people about God and help people live for Him.
Learning is one of the great joys of life! It allows us to see the amazing complexity and unity of God’s creation which fills our heart with echoes of praise. It provides us with the tools needed to dig out the treasures of God’s word. It enables us to make a living and have something to share with those in need. Yes, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning!” (Prov. 1:5).
Yet, growing mentally can easily go wrong, and it does for most people. Learning becomes an idol where a person’s GPA, SAT, MA, BA, and PhD, is the indication of their self-worth and the source of their arrogant pride. Furthermore, the wisdom of this world is often poisoned with the fatal errors of atheism and immorality.
Some parents give their children the clear idea that doing their homework and making the grade is more important than knowing God and serving His purposes. At that point the pursuit of knowledge steers into dangerous territory where God is not king!
Jesus Increased in Stature
Jesus’ physical condition enabled Him to walk great distances, teach for long periods of time, survive without food and endure suffering. Those things would be impossible without being in good health.
We want our children to be physically healthy so we make sure they eat right, get enough sleep, and get involved in programs that will strengthen their bodies. However, we live in a world that has made health an obsession and the body an idol. Our children get swept up into this preoccupation with looks and fitness, and take our money and time right along for the ride.
Some parents give their children the clear idea that their sporting event and physical welfare is more important than knowing God and serving His purposes. At that point the pursuit of health steers into dangerous territory where God is not king!
Jesus Increased in Favor with Man
Jesus was a refreshing change from this self-centered world. He cared about other people, all kinds of people, for the purpose of bring them to God (Mark 10:45). How winsome!
Yes, we long for our children to have good friends. We desperately want them to feel accepted. But why? Is it so they may walk closer to the Lord and influence their friends with the ways of Jesus?
Some parents give their children the clear idea that having friends is more important than knowing God and serving His purposes. At that point the pursuit of friendship steers into dangerous territory where God is not king!
Jesus Increased in Favor with God
Growing spiritually is one area in which our children can keep on growing and never run into a problem. From a young child Jesus kept growing in favor with God. But what does that mean? God loved Jesus so much at His birth that He sent angels to sing praises. How could Jesus possibly grow in God’s favor?
When my children were born I could have not loved them anymore than I did in that moment. But, as they began to learn what was good and then do it I thought to myself, “That’s my child!” and now I have many more reasons to love them. At first I loved them for who they were, now I increasingly love them for what they’ve become.
God loved Jesus at His birth, but then Jesus began to make other obedient choices that made God so pleased. He was baptized by John and, “the heavens were opened … and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22). Jesus healed the sick, preached the gospel and went to the cross for people who didn’t deserve it, and God raised Him from the dead saying, “You are my Son!” (Psalm 2:7).
Growing in your ability to give God a reason to say, “That’s my Child!” is something that never has a down side.
We want our children to grow in knowledge but ask, “Why?” Let the answer be, “I want them to make God smile.”
We want our children to grow physically but ask, “Why?” Let the answer be, “I want them to make God smile.”
We want our children to have friends but ask, “Why?” Let the answer be, “I want them to make God smile.”
Growing in favor with God is the main goal that makes all the other aspects of growing up, right.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Cor. 16:14)
An Extra Bit:
Yes, okay, I turned my study of this subject into a sermon … “two birds with one stone,” as they say. Kind of a gruesome metaphor isn’t it? Anyway, here you go.
The Audio (at beloved Spring Creek): Growing Up Right