Children Have Rights… 5/21/00



MATTHEW 18:1 – 6

JESUS CHRIST said, “Let the little children
come unto Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is
the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

Children have a right to come to Jesus.

Jesus had a harsh condemnation for anyone who did anything to misdirect a child: “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

If that were applied literally today, the person with the millstone concession would make a fortune.

It is estimated that 4.5 million children are abused annually. There are 4.5 million teenage alcoholics today. Most start drinking alcohol at age 12.

Sam Janus in THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE records that there are over 5,000 reported cases of incest annually in America with up to twenty times that number not reported.

The Lord God said, “None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness” (Lev. 18:6).

The FBI estimates there are over 100,000 young people who run away from home annually. Friends who minister on the beaches of Florida frequently have told me of the hunger, loneliness, and poor housing many youth on the run have. They are abandoned, unappreciated, physically and emotionally abused by strangers. Yet, these youth say this is a better life than the one from which they ran. They say it is better to be beaten up and sexually abused by someone you don’t know and don’t care about than by members of your family you want to love and care about.

Child abuse is one symptom of the stress in our society. It is also an indication of sin in our culture. Both can be dealt with — and must be.

Ruth Kempe in her book CHILD ABUSE states: “Since the abused grow up to be abusers, the intervention we can offer serves not only to protect the children now, but can help break the chain that binds future generations.”


They are:
-Immaturity and dependent
-Social isolation
-Poor self-esteem
-Difficulty seeking and obtaining pleasure
-Fear of spoiling the child
-Belief in the value of punishment
-Impaired ability to empathize.

It was said, “Jesus called a little child unto Him, set him in the midst of them…” (Matthew 18:2). He then proceeded to teach using the child as a model. Let’s do the same asking the question: “To what does a child have a right?”

In the gospel written by him, John tells of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with 5 barley loaves and two small fish. There is a line in the narrative spoken by the Apostle Andrew that stands out: “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish…” The portion of the statement that is impressive is not the number or kinds of fish and loaves but simply, “There is a lad here…” One translation reads, “There is a child among us…” At times it appears we individually and even collectively are unmindful “There is a child among us…” We need to be mindful of the children among us. They have rights.


They should be considered “a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).

We have developed children who have a Narcissistic Complex. The story of Narcissus, the son of the river god Cephisus is told by the Roman poet Ovid in his work the “Metamorphoses.” The Greek mythological character was very much in love with himself. So deeply infatuated with himself that when he saw his image in water he could not leave looking at himself. He eventually fell in and drowned. Upon his death he was turned into a flower called a Narcissus. Persons enamored with themselves are said to have a Narcissistic Complex.

Many young people have been told they are special so much they believe it and are in love with themselves. They have grown to think they deserve pampering. A “me” centered world has evolved around them. This too is an unidentified form of child neglect. Their parents have neglected to teach them their value is related to their worth to the Lord.

Don’t tell them they are special. Be specific, “You are special to me.” That means they are of value to you. That’s good. Others may not consider them so special. Or better still, tell them they are special to God. Indeed, they are. This concept helps to develop a commendable self-worth. The person grows to realize their worth is based on who they are in the sight of God, not in their own narcissistic eyes.

Children have a right to be wanted. We live is a society where disposals are common. Human beings are even considered disposable. If a young woman becomes pregnant and doesn’t want the baby all she has to do is dispose of it.

Today we even have a potential law being considered in Georgia that if a new mother decides within a week after birth she doesn’t want her child she can take it to the local hospital and leave it. If a boy is desired and a girl is born just drop it off at the hospital. If the child isn’t perfect just take it to the local hospital and let the tax payers parent it. Brown eyes might even result in being a dropped off baby.

A person not mature enough to rear a baby has no moral right to birth a baby. Every child has a right to be wanted.


This spoils a child. Sooner or later someone will have to teach the child this principle. It may be a teacher, a drill sergeant, or a policeman, but it must be learned.

By age three, Samuel’s mother taught him good from evil.

By age three, Moses’ mother taught him morals for life.

By age five, Voltaire memorized an infidel poem.

Modern minds are being molded by a common mentor: TV. Monitor what is viewed. It soon becomes the accepted pattern for conduct.

Self-indulgence is self-destructive.

There is a tragic form of illiteracy in America. It doesn’t relate to reading and writing.


One of the best ways to teach and hence to learn is through stories. Our imagination is enlightened and excited by stories. They engage our imagination. In the word “imagination” can be heard the root word “image.” Imagination more than reason helps us make decisions. Reason often submits to imagination.

It is not enough to simply KNOW what is right it is necessary to DESIRE right. Many know what is right but have no desire to do it.

Plato said children should be reared to love VIRTUE and hate VICE. How? Upon hearing the answer you may well concede they are being taught to love vice not virtue. Plato said they are taught to love virtue and hate vice by such things as music, books, and TV. (Plato didn’t mention TV. It along with the Internet are the new entries of consequence.)

The way to teach best is by stories. Stories engage the imagination for good or bad, to love virtue or vice. Not only should children be taught the stories of the Bible we adults need to go back and reread them regardless of how familiar we think them to be. In the stories are found the virtues needing to be taught. In these stories virtue is advocated and vice is shown to be improper and destructive.

If you desire to inspire courage read the story of Daniel.

If it is leadership you want to inspire read of Moses.

If it is sexual purity read of Joseph.

If it is submissiveness read the story of Mary the birth mother of Jesus.

If it is willingness to pay the price read of Esther.

If it is boldness and confidence in the Lord read of David and Goliath.

If it is virtue you want to teach read of Ruth and Boaz.

If it is the love of God read the story of Jesus Christ.

In the book entitled “Lord of the Rings” one character asks: “How shall a man judge what to do in times like these?” “As he ever has,” comes the reply. “Good and evil have not changed… It is man’s part to discern them.”

It may be unclear to a child whether or not he wants to be good or bad, BUT it is easy for him to describe WHO they want to be like. In doing so they choose good or bad. Because children are not being taught by stories they are choosing to be like: Madonna, Bart Simpson and their ilk. Read for yourself, and children, biographies of people of virtue not vice and they will choose to be like those persons and in doing so will learn to choose virtue and hate vice.


Parenting is actually patterning. The young child picks up traits and habits from the parent. Instinctively they walk like the parent. Their vocal pattern is a parroting of the parent. They tend to look at the world through the lens of their parents. A parent should demonstrate what is right and wrong not merely dictate it.


If a child lives with approval, He learns self-acceptance.

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with shame, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to share love.

The title of a Gary McSpaden song is true:

“What They See Is What They Hear.”

* Model for them a good work ethic.

* Demonstrate for them how to handle disappointments.

* Exemplify for them courtesy and good manners.

* Teach them respect for others with whom they disagree.

* Help their understanding of finding pleasure in little things.

* Exhibit for them a willingness to pay the price in order to stand for your convictions.

* Pattern for them a living faith in the Living Lord. Let them see Jesus in you.


“Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2: 2,3).


The parent-child growth process is a matter of shared and eventually transferred power. At various stages parents turn over bits of power to the child. First a baby assumes the power of his own locomotion and mobility. Then comes the right to feed, clean, and eventually clothe self. Soon comes the right to watch for cars by himself before crossing the street. It seems like only the next week there is a request for use of the car to go on a date.


Discipline is what a parent does FOR not TO a child. Hebrews 12:3 says discipline is a form of love.

In California an elementary school house was located on a busy corner. The children played close to the buildings and as far away from the streets as possible. A fence was built along the perimeter of the school yard. Knowing the protective limits of the fence the children played all over the yard right up next to the curb. They knew the limits and felt comfortable in them. When a child is blessed to have parents that define the limits they feel comfortable in the area where they are unlimited but protected by limitations.

Regarding the benefits and blessings of discipline Solomon wrote: “he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov 13:24).

A parent must discipline self before attempting to discipline a child.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17).


As a result the parent should evidence:

-A glad heart. 

-A sense of self-worth.

-A forgiving heart. 

-A thankful nature.

All of this and more grows out of an uninhibited love for Christ which is shared by example and expression.

With the little child in their midst Jesus charged them and us: “…unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus clearly defined one trait He had in mind as typifying how we must come to the Father.

“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). To deny ones self is to come humbly.

An unstated but obvious trait of a little child is dependency. We must come with Him totally dependent upon Him.

Reflect on the story of the lad with the loaves and fishes. He gave what he had and in the hands of Jesus it was multiplied. Give what you have to Jesus. Learn from this simple story. Give your all to Jesus.