"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." – Matthew 18:10

Jesus tells us that the Lord never misses what happens to one of his "little ones." Is this an encouragement, or a warning?

Rudeness to children counts as rudeness

Miss Manners, an internationally syndicated columnist, has an interesting take on the way we sometimes treat our children: "Rudeness to children counts as rudeness. The fact that people are smaller and blood relatives does not mean that it is open season on insulting them."

Parents who are rude to their children have forgotten that their children belong first to God. These are not our children to do with as we please; they were made by God, and he has designed a unique future for them. If we complicate that future by tearing them down instead of building them up, we work against God’s purposes – and we can be sure he will call us to account.

Parents' words have more power than we may realize

As parents, we are called to the awe-inspiring responsibility to nurture and shape human beings, made in the image of God, for whom Christ died. Our actions can have severe consequences, and we have the power to shatter these somewhat fragile beings. Some parents inflict this damage subtly, perhaps by a constant barrage of perfectionistic banter, making sure their kids feel like they never measure up. Maybe we wound them in a passive-aggressive way, maliciously withholding the affection we know they crave, with the result that they slip into a life of promiscuity. Maybe we get too busy, and by our neglect fail to train them adequately, with the result that they make poor life choices and end up ruined.

Jesus laid down His life for our children

Remember: Jesus feels so passionately about our children’s well-being that he was willing to go to the cross to win their salvation. Will a God who paid the highest cost imaginable fail to even notice the rude or neglectful ways we respond to our children? Will a heavenly Father so engaged in their spiritual health forget to watch what is going on in our homes?

Rude is rude, even if it’s our "own" child.

Gary Thomas is the founder and director of the Center for Evangelical Spirituality, a writing and speaking ministry that integrates Scripture, church history and the Christian classics. He is the author of many books, including Sacred Marriage, Sacred Parenting, Cherish, The Sacred Search and A Lifelong Love.

© 2008 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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