Dear Christian Parents,
In my home, we have always measured and recorded our children’s growth on charts. Each child has had a growth chart taped to the wall where we mark the child’s height and record the child’s weight from time to time. We date these measurements on the chart so that the child’s progress can be seen. The children are always excited to see how much they have grown because it means that they are quickly becoming mature adults.
However, not all growth within children can be measured by a chart on the wall. As children grow physically, they should also be growing in intangible ways that cannot be measured in terms of inches and pounds. Notice two examples from the Scriptures that demonstrate not only the physical growth of children but also their personal growth. The first example is found in 1 Samuel 2:26, where the Scripture says, “Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.” The second example is a very similar passage in Luke 2:52, in which the Bible says concerning the Lord, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” By these examples, we can devise a different kind of growth chart to measure the non-physical growth of children. To see whether children are growing personally, we must consider whether they are growing in wisdom, in favor with God, and in favor with mankind.
Growth in wisdom can be measured only in terms of the Scriptures. A child cannot be born wise, for the Bible says that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15). However, a child can quickly grow in wisdom by godly training. The first step toward true wisdom is learning the fear of God, for “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10; see also Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). In order to make this step and grow in wisdom, a child must be taught of God from the Bible. For example, consider Timothy’s upbringing according to 2 Timothy 3:14-15 – “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Timothy’s example demonstrates that childhood is a time for parents to impart the knowledge of the “sacred writings” (the Bible) to their children so that children can develop all kinds of wisdom, especially the wisdom that leads to salvation. If a child is not being trained in this way and does not know the fear of God, then the child is not growing in wisdom.
Godly homeschooling in compliance with the Scriptures is the best means of education for promoting the growth of wisdom within children. Through homeschooling, parents can immerse their children in the wisdom of God’s word from the time they rise in the morning until the time they lie down at night (Deuteronomy 6:7). In contrast to that, public schools are legally barred from teaching the Bible, and therefore public education is devoid of Biblical wisdom. The only wisdom a child can obtain in public schools is the wisdom of man via a literally godless education. (For a contrast of Biblical wisdom versus man’s wisdom, consider 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and James 3:13-18.)
The second element of a child’s growth, his favor with God, can also be measured in terms of the Scriptures, for it is the Scriptures that tell us whom God favors. According to the Scriptures, God favors those who fear Him (Psalm 147:11), which means that He favors those who possess the beginning of wisdom (see above). He also favors those who are humble (Isaiah 62:2; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5), obedient (1 Samuel 15:22; Hebrews 5:9), compassionate (Matthew 9:13; 12:7), just (Psalm 37:28), and a host of other godly traits. In order for a child to be growing in favor with God, the child must grow in all of these godly characteristics, and that can only happen if the child’s parents are carefully teaching and exemplifying those characteristics to the child. Children who are not taught these things cannot grow in favor with God.
Again, God-centered homeschooling is the form of education that best promotes a child’s growth in favor with God. The constant exposure to God’s word combined with the godly examples of Christian parents will cultivate those godly characteristics which are favored by our Father in heaven. Moreover, the absence of wicked influences and corrupt socialization will reduce a child’s likelihood of developing traits that are unfavorable in the eyes of God. In the case of a child who is faithfully educated by his own Christian parents, we can describe his growth in terms of Psalm 1:1-3, for how blessed is the child…
“…who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Finally, favor with mankind can be measured according to whether other people approve of a child, but with this we must be careful. This measure of growth is not about the unqualified opinions of people. Notice again that the Scriptures say that both Samuel and Jesus were growing “in favor with God and men.” The favor of men was obtained in conjunction with the favor of God. It is evident that ungodly men would not have favored the godly principles and practices of Samuel or Jesus, but such approval of the ungodly was not considered. Instead, it was that both Samuel and Jesus gained the favor of men by means of their increasing godly character. So then, we must not teach our children to be men-pleasers (Galatians 1:10; Ephesians 6:5-8), but rather we must teach them to be pleasers of God and thereby to obtain favor from other people as well. Indeed, people will favor them when they practice the godly traits of kindness, honesty, courtesy, justice, generosity, and love. On the other hand, children who are untaught and undisciplined will practice cruelty, deceit, rudeness, selfishness, greed, and hatred, and this will garner no favor from anyone.
As with the other measures of growth, children who are educated at home by Christian parents have the best opportunity to grow in favor with mankind. God-centered homeschooling places a high educational priority on developing godly traits of character. These traits will draw the favor of all people. Granted, ungodly people will despise, resent, and reject the godly principles and faithful practices that accompany godly character, but even ungodly people favor traits such as kindness and mercy. For all of the concern expressed about socialization in homeschool, I find that it is the homeschooled students I meet who have the most favorable social skills. They are generally the friendliest, most polite, and most respectful children I encounter. They easily gain my favor and the favor of all others who meet them.
Whether we measure our children for physical growth or for personal growth (in wisdom, in favor with God, in favor with mankind), we can only expect results that are in accordance with our efforts to help them grow. If we fail to feed our children with nutritious food, to allow them to get physical exercise, or to provide them with necessary healthcare, then we cannot expect for our children grow properly in stature. Likewise, if we fail to feed our children on the pure milk of God’s word (1 Peter 2:1-3), to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), or to give them good examples to follow (John 5:19), then we cannot expect them to grow in wisdom, in favor with God, and in favor with mankind. It seems that most parents apply these principles regarding the physical growth of children, but very few apply them regarding personal growth of children. Dear Christian parents, how do your children measure up? If your children fall short, then understand that it is not their fault, but rather it is yours. Likewise, if my children fall short, then I carry the blame. If this is the case, then let’s change our ways, and help our children to grow today.
Regards in the Lord,
© 2011 Dear Christian Parents