WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL CHILD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
This is our last message in our miniseries RAISING JESUS. This morning we will look at the childhood years of Jesus in Luke 2 to answer “WHAT MAKES A SUCCESFUL CHILD.” All of us as parents want our children to be successful. Never met a parent thus far who said – “I want my child to grow up and be a total failure.”
Luke 2 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Overall Background: The passage we just read marks the end of the information regarding the childhood years of Jesus. Have you ever wondered why the Bible doesn’t tell us more? Why are there no accounts of his interaction with his siblings, with his neighbors, and with people in His town or synagogue? Some of the Apocryphal Gospels/Gnostic Gospels have tried to fill in the blanks between age 12 and age 30 but they’re nothing but foolish myths and legends. Why did God choose to keep silent about the growing up years of Jesus? This is my guess – typically, the Bible doesn’t talk much about the childhood years of any of its characters. Once in a while we hear of a boy Joseph who had a dream of his future or a girl Miriam who watched over her baby brother Moses or a boy David who killed Goliath but those are rare instances. Why not more? Because the childhood years are transitional and preparatory years. Like a fruit on a tree that is not ripe, children are not ripe until they reach adulthood. To focus on this period as the end in itself is to miss the fruit. These are still “work in progress” years and as such very critical. What you do now with them determines their course later.
Application: May I ask you – Are you taking seriously these years in your child’s life? Are you raising them to be successful? Are you raising them in the fear of God? As a church are we doing all we can to reach children? Are we leading them to know Jesus as their Savior? Do we know Jesus as our Savior?
This morning in verse 52 we will see two major things that make a successful child.
I. A PATIENT PARENT
51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them,
Background: The temple incident in the previous verses was quite traumatic in the lives of Joseph and Mary. It was traumatic not just because Jesus was lost for three days but when they found Him, He was sitting in the midst of the leaders and discussing theology. When they confronted Him, He rebuked them saying – “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
What is a parent to do in a situation like that? Mary could have become overprotective and start hovering over Him. Instead, listen to what it says in verse 51, “but His mother kept all these things in her heart.” Meaning: Not only did she not go overboard with Him but neither did she try to label Him. She could have said about Jesus – “He is so absent-minded” or “He is such a daydreamer” or “He is just in His own world” or even “He is so selfish.” She didn’t jump to any conclusions. Mary’s strongest quality was that she pondered. She “kept all these things in her heart.”
There are powerful lessons here – sometimes parents and teachers make judgments regarding children that don’t need to be made – “He is a troublemaker” “She is going to cause a lot of grief.” Too early for that! You have no idea what that child may end up becoming. Sometimes parents and teachers tend to give up on children – “He won’t amount to much.” “She has no potential.”
Application: What are you thinking in your heart for your children? Do you have any hope for them? Do you have any vision for their lives? Do you pray for them?
Let me also add – Sometimes we’re too quick to label somebody else’s child. Sometimes we tend to think that our children are perfect. Here’s what I say – People are not telling you what your child is doing. Their child keeps getting caught but yours keeps slipping through. Their child will straighten out but yours will keep going down the wrong path.
For e.g. I remember to this day this man who got on to me at church. I was wrong but the way he did it was quite hateful. “You’re a pastor’s kid and that’s how you act?” At the time I didn’t even understand that concept. When I did, it bothered me, even to this day.
We know that Mary kept these things in her heart but how about other people? Do you think it’s possible that people talked about Jesus as a child? Matthew 18 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. 6 “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. Almost want to say – “Whoa! Did someone touch a nerve?” You can almost hear Jesus’ anger coming through.
Application: Do you keep things in your heart for your children? Do you hope for the best for them and pray for them? Do you keep things in your heart for other children? Do you hope for the best for them and pray for them?
II. A MERCIFUL AND TRUTHFUL CHILD
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,
Background: Now we know what it means to grow in wisdom. It comes from the “fear of the Lord.” Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Then the word stature h`likia in this context means maturity. And what else happened? Jesus increased “in favor with God and men.”
This is a very interesting phrase – “in favor with God and men.” What does that mean? To understand it, we have to turn to the Book of Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
Background: In Proverbs Solomon wrote 10 letters to his son Rehoboam. What we just read comes from the 3rd letter. He is telling his son how to have favor with God and people.
By the way – isn’t that what you and I want for our children? We want heaven to bless them and earth to honor them. How much more balanced can you get? God looks at them with favor and people look at them with favor.
Solomon tells Rehoboam how to have this double favor:
“Let not mercy and truth forsake you;” – mercy = kindness which is actually “help to the needy” and truth = faithfulness which is actually “being trustworthy.” These two qualities stand in stark contrast to the selfishness and unfaithfulness of the wicked sons and daughter.
For e.g. When I think of someone who is selfish and untrustworthy, I think of Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He is heartless, cold, apathetic, and downright evil man.
THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN BEING WISE AND BEING CUNNING
“Bind them around your neck” = make them a necklace. “Write them on the tablet of your heart”= make it your identity. When people see you they know who you are.
Application: What kind of a reputation do you have? Some people think that wisdom means being smart and cunning and cheating people of their last dollar. Far from that.
What is the result? 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
Two other time we find this mentioned in the Bible: One is in the book of Samuel. The sons of Eli were stealing from the Lord and from the people. As the people were bringing their sacrifices to the temple, these men were taking advantage of their father’s position. Eli tried to get on to them in I Samuel 2:25 “If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.” In the very next verse it says 26 And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men. The boy Samuel later became an important prophet in Israel who helped unite the kingdom and institute the office of king. He also became the prophet who anointed David as king.
Do you want your children to have favor with God and people? They need mercy and truth. In other words, they need kindness and faithfulness.
The similar phrase is heard again in the book of Acts. Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
The secret of our church’s success is mercy and truth.
We want our children to be loved and appreciated by people. We like to hear that they are being admired and adored. Unfortunately, some of our ideas actually cause them to be resented. We think favor comes when they are best at everything or win a lot of trophies or be in every activity. Instead what they need are eyes, mouth, hands, feet, heart, and mind full of mercy and truth. The place to begin is by teaching to have mercy and truth.
How can we have mercy and truth? The place to begin is not by trying to be merciful and truthful. It will not last. Instead, receive Jesus as your Savior. It will bring His nature into your life. Now Jesus lives through you. Whatever He is, now you are. It is natural and lasting. At times you may slip but repent and return to your first love.
So the real question is do your children know Jesus as their Savior. That will bring mercy and truth in their lives and in turn bring favor with God and men. Another important question is do you know Jesus as your Savior. This will bring mercy and truth into your life.