The Growth Chart|
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. 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 from time to time because it means that they are quickly becoming mature adults.
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 physical growth in children but also personal growth. The first example is that of Samuel in 1Samuel 2:26 – "Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.” The second example is that of the Lord Jesus in Luke 2:52 – "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 they are growing personally, we must consider whether they are growing in wisdom, in favor with God, and in favor with men.
Growth in wisdom can be measured in terms of the Scriptures. A child cannot be born wise, for the Scripture says that "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Prov. 22:15), but a child can quickly grow in wisdom. 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” (Prov. 9:10; see also Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7). In order to make this step and grow in wisdom, a child must be taught of God from the Bible. Notice 2Timothy 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” (emphasis by SED). Childhood is the time for parents to impart the knowledge of the sacred writings (the Bible) to their children so that the children can have all kinds of wisdom and especially the wisdom that leads to salvation. So, if a child does not know the fear of God and is not learning from the Scriptures, then the child is not growing in wisdom.
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 (Ps. 147:11), which means that He favors those who possess the beginning of wisdom (see above). He also favors those who are humble (Isa. 62:2; Jas. 4:10; 1Pet. 5:5), obedient (1Sam. 15:22; Heb. 5:9), compassionate (Matt. 9:13; 12:7), just (Ps. 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.
Favor with men can be measured according to whether men approve of a child, but with this we must be careful. This measure of growth is not about the unqualified opinions of men. 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 godliness 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 godliness. So then, we must not teach our children to be men-pleasers (Eph. 6:5-8), but rather we must teach them to be pleasers of God and thereby to obtain favor from men as well. Indeed, men will favor them when they practice the godly traits of kindness, courtesy, justice, generosity, love, etc. On the other hand, children who are untaught and undisciplined will practice cruelty, rudeness, selfishness, greed, hatred, etc., and this will garner no favor from anyone.
Whether we measure our children for physical growth or for personal growth (in wisdom, in favor with God, in favor with men), 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 (1Pet. 2:1-3), to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 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 men. 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 parents, how do your children measure up? If they fall short, then understand that it is not their fault, but rather it is yours. If this is the case, then change your ways, and help your children to grow today.
Stacey E. Durham
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