Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Our daughter called the other day and told us that we had to hear what our three-year-old grandson had just said to her - totally unprompted, out of the blue. He got on the phone and simply said, "Ronald." My wife and I cracked up. That's exactly what my wife says to me when I'm doing something weird - which, of course, is very, very rare. It's her lighthearted way of trying to correct this crazy guy she's married to. But our grandson had even mastered the tone of what she says - "Ronald." All this time he's been listening, recording - and now reproducing. Like we should be surprised?
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Human Files."
Now, all the time our kids were growing up, we had this tapestry hanging up in our room - it said, "Children learn what they live." I guess. Our recent amusing experience with our grandson was only a reminder of the truth of that. Except the results of children learning what they live often are anything but amusing. Whether you realize it or not, your child, your grandchild - any child you're around very much - is listening, recording, and sooner or later reproducing what they have experienced or witnessed with you.
And if that weren't sobering enough, we have what Jesus says in our word for today from the Word of God to make us think seriously about how we're marking the children we influence. In Matthew 18:6, Jesus says, "If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Wow. Jesus says, "Whatever you do, don't mess up a child."
So, it is obviously very important to step back and consider what we are putting on the video and audio tapes in our kids' minds. The angry words. The names we call them or other people. The racial prejudice that diminishes someone God created - or a whole group of people God created. The children are picking up how we talk about other people - they're absorbing all that church gossip they hear and forming feelings about the people and work of God. They're learning how to handle stress, and conflict, and disappointment - by watching you. They're learning to respect or disrespect your spouse by the way you respect or disrespect your spouse.
I wonder what our children are learning from us about money - about how important it is -about giving it generously to Jesus - about how to handle those times when the money isn't there. Are they learning faith in a God who's a wonderful provider or fear and complaining? And what are our children learning from what they know we watch or listen to? Are they taught that certain things are wrong - and then see you watching those things portrayed or laughed about on TV? They are learning, not so much by what you say, but by what you live.
Think about what you're writing in the wet cement of that child's heart. It may be that you need to go to a child and actually apologize for some of what they have seen and heard - to let them know it isn't right and you're trying to change. And concentrate on giving them the kinds of experiences you want them to copy - praying together, calmly talking through things, listening before talking, putting the other person first, treating people with respect.
The children in our lives are human files - storing what they experience and ultimately reproducing it. They learn what they live - and then later they live what they learned. Jesus said, "Do not mess up the children, or you'll have Me to answer to." Be sure they're learning what you want them to live - what He wants them to live.