If you ever become a legislator and you want to make sure a bill passes, make sure there is some provision in that bill that can be advocated for with the line “think about the children.” Once that line is uttered, all debate has to stop – well, at least according to some people. There might even be some who will disagree that the part of your bill you are pushing is good for children, or even that other parts of the bill might be bad for children and respond with, “I am thinking of the children, that’s why I’m against this.” I may sound a bit cynical about this, but the truth is that many have taken an important idea – caring for children – and have used it to seek power and influence over others.
Long ago, children were not given that value by most of society. Children were to be seen and not heard. They were useful to have as extra hands on the farm in an economy that was more agrarian. Back in biblical times, the firstborn son was important to carry on the family line, but the others were of decreasing value except as farm hands. God, though, understood the importance of children. In fact, one of the signs of the day of the Lord dealt with children. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6)
In a world that reminds us of all that we do “for the children” we have a lot of people doing bad things to children. They are torn apart in the womb. They are abused after birth. They and their innocence are taken and used to provide unseemly pleasures for some and financial gain for others. They are used as pawns in divorce cases when parents split up and pawns for political purposes. Just as John the Baptist was the Elijah who prepared the way for the first coming of Jesus, we long for the Elijah who will come before the dreadful day of the Lord appears. We live in a world where the horrendous sinfulness that surrounds us is revealed in part by our treatment of children. I wish I could tell you when the next Elijah will be coming, but I can tell you what we need to do before He comes – just to make things easier. Strengthen families.
The message to come will end up with the hearts of their parents turning to their children and the hearts of the children turning to their parents. In other words, families will become stronger. The Bible has some great ideas to help your family grow stronger. Husbands, love and respect your wives. Wives, love and respect your husbands. Parents, don’t provoke your children. Children, honor your parents. Love each other without conditions. Forgive each other in all circumstances. Give grace as you extend forgiveness. The key to being able to do all these things is a relationship with Jesus Christ. God is the greatest example in all of these ways of dealing with each other, and we are called to follow His example by loving, forgiving, and giving grace to others, especially in our own household. Sometimes we “let our hair down” around family and treat them worse than we treat the rest of the world. Why not make today the day you practice love, forgiveness, and grace with your own family first.
Lord God, as I look at our nation I see a country that has lost its priorities. Our families need to be strengthened and we need Your help to do that. Help me to show more love and grace to my family. Let my example of forgiveness inspire others to forgive. Let the love Your people show to each other cause others to seek out Your love for them.