Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,…
If we judge by inference and analogy from these words, rather than from the circumstances and person to whom they belong, we reach a truth like this: that by a messenger, incompetent because of his weakness, some messages from God come more forcefully to the ears and heart of men. What the prophet was comparatively many are actually, and the same truth holds good throughout, and so we reach a point which may well occupy our thought: the Divine mission and office of children, what they have to say, what they have to do. Is it not wrong to think of children as incomplete growth, of youth as nothing more than incomplete maturity? Such treatment injures them, for it fosters the idea into strength that today is nothing, and tomorrow everything, that the present is valueless, and the future holds all hope. Such treatment injures us, for we only exist impatiently till this time shall have passed, and miss all the instruction we might gather from the earliest impulses of life. In the home, and in the Church which is the larger home, there is a place for them to occupy, a mission to fulfil. Take two or three points as hints.
1. First the meaning and the power of simple faith. It is a word that some of us perhaps for years have been trying to learn the meaning of. Faith, trust. Have you children of your own, or have you seen such, nestling fearless and trustful at their parent's knee! Your child believes in you, in something more than the fact of your existence. It lives in your love. It trusts your care. Faith is a belief that leads to the committal of the whole being to the hands of One who is our Father, our Helper, our Saviour; and as we grow up into strength, the highest of all motive impulse, at first it may be fear or expectation of good that induces obedience, but no long time can pass, if the relation be truly sustained, before love is the impulse of every action; and because your child loves you it delights to do your will. As such is the truth which appears in the earliest years of children, can it be a mistake to suppose that God intended the truth to be learned from such illustration of His word?
2. Does there not come to us in this self-same way, too, a hint of the folly and wrong of distractive anxiety? What good could the child do by puzzling its little brain with such questions as belong necessarily to the chiefs of the family? What slight would be cast upon the parents' love if the child should becloud its life and be sad because no way out of supposed difficulties presented itself! Would you not say or think, my child, I stand higher and see farther; what is an inscrutable problem to you is none to me; my strength removes the hindrance, my wisdom solves the riddle?
3. And this leads us to another thought: that those things which seem to us all-important, upon which our whole interest is often apt to centre, to which, indeed, we look as to the source of our happiness in life, may be the merest trifles after all. What a small matter changes the child's light to darkness! In what an instant, by what a trivial cause, is laughing changed to crying, or the reverse! You say the child will grow, that now it speaks, thinks, acts as a child, but when it becomes a man it will put away childish things. God expects the same thing of us, and we well may ask ourselves, Am I growing into a higher life, and is it manifest by my interest in things of superior moment? Spiritually, have we come to see what is the noblest aim that may be set before us? Having learned the principles of the Gospel of Christ, are we going on to perfection, coming closer up to our Father in likeness, reflecting proof of our sonship, ready to follow everywhere He leads, and to be quite sure that as we would give our child all that is good, and not willingly or needlessly cause one pang of pain, so in much intenser and tenderer love does our Heavenly Father deal with us?
4. The last thought is the influence of kindliness and refreshing which is shed from the life of children. Their presence in the home makes the life less artificial, more true; and such may be their influence in the Church. We hold out the hand of encouragement for them to confess the name of the Saviour whom they may love. Let first impulses toward Christ, instinctive they will be, be nurtured. See to it that none be repressed, none discouraged.
(D. J. Hamer.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,