By Whitney Standlea
One thing that is special about being a mother is that I am absolutely convinced that there is no child in the world as wonderful or special as my own. Carson’s eyes must be the most beautiful eyes of any child anywhere. Justus’ passion for construction trucks and hot dogs must rival any boy’s or man’s. And of course, that flowered dress wouldn’t look near as pretty on any other little girl but Joy. When my children smile, it lights up my whole world.
What I find fascinating about this is that I know other parents feel the same way about their children. And it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I want them to think that way about their children. While it can be taken to unhealthy extremes, I think this is a good gift to give our children. Many benefits come from having a high view of the individuality, beauty and talent of our children. One of the most important in my mind is a unique foretaste of the great blessedness of being a child of God. When parents lovingly express the specialness and uniqueness of a child, I believe it can lay a foundation for being able to believe that God would uniquely and specially love us as His own child. But I digress…
The real reason I bring this up is to draw parents to an offensive little phrase I noticed in Scripture. It is this: “Like the rest of mankind.” I think I would be either appalled or offended if anyone walked up to me and said, “Your daughter is just like the rest of ‘em. Smiles like them. Looks like them.” So is your son or daughter just like the rest of them? Let’s walk through Ephesians 2 and see what is so important about this annoying little phrase.
In chapter 2 of Ephesians, Paul graciously reminds us that our salvation is so great because of who we once were. He tells us we were dead, disobedient, separated from Christ, and children of wrath! The point of the passage is to remind us that God is rich in mercy because He still chose to save us even though we were just like the rest of the world walking in all the lusts of our flesh. There was absolutely nothing different about us. But something struck me as I was studying this text. As much as I hate to admit it, Paul gave only two categories for mankind: children of wrath and children of God. I can admit that I used to be a “child of wrath” but I preferred there be a third category: “Children of Whitney Standlea.” But there isn’t. I had to place my children in the context of one or the other, and at this time my children are “children of wrath like the rest of mankind.” Being honest, once I thought about it I didn’t really like that idea.
This is very sobering. My little sons that struggle to obey my voice are in the same general category as the rapist on the news last night. My daughter in all her beauty is really no different than the promiscuous teen that I would never allow to babysit her. These little children that I care for, tend to, get frustrated with, adore, and love every day are children of wrath in their very nature. They are separated from Christ, pursuing anything their hearts and minds desire.
Of what help is this unpleasant truth? If you can move past the splendid uniqueness of the gift God has given you, what good does it do us as parents to recognize that our children are really just like the rest of ‘em. I think this unpleasant realization is of eternal significance. It is perhaps the most propelling part of the particular love a parent has for her own child. The more we can understand and grasp at this truth, the more eager I believe we will be to share the great love of God with our children. As we see that their lives, their gifts and talents, their eternities (that we value so much) are of little worth unless surrendered to the Savior, we can refocus on the most important calling we have as parents: to constantly call on our heavenly Father and avail ourselves of every means God has given us to make our children become His children. In reality, if they only remain our children, they merely remain “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
So let us strive with all diligence to bring them before our Father in prayer and turn their hearts to the love of the Savior. Let us remember that their eyes are always watching and their ears always listening. May our tongues speak constantly of His love and our hearts overflow with tenderness and patience toward them just as God has demonstrated great kindness and patience with us. May we be eager to seize the moment by moment opportunities we have to live and speak the Gospel to our children with as great an eagerness as we would with any other lost soul we have the opportunity to encounter. And as our hearts become impatient and hardened toward our children, which they do, let us run back to the great manner of love that God has bestowed on us-that we the former children of wrath should now be called the children of God!
Whitney Standlea is a wife, mother and FCC member. She teaches music at Faith Christian Academy.