"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

You know the sound. The one that sounds like air escaping from a tire or a punctured balloon. The one that one of your children may make when called upon to pick up a mess, take a bath, brush teeth, or anything that he or she may consider burdensome. Then, the inevitable question, "do I hafta?" followed by an emphatic "yes, you HAFTA!" by the not-too-longsuffering parent. I guess most parents have experienced the testing of the boundaries by their children. There is a lesson here for adults as well.

Children, when they are young, don't clean up their rooms, bathe, brush their teeth, or go to bed at a reasonable hour because they love their parents. They usually do these things only after threats of punishment or the carrying out what they have threatened. There is no doubt that they love their parents, but they don't yet DO things to show their love. They have to grow old enough to realize that all the things that they have been commanded to do all these years is FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. It would have been easier to allow the child to sit up and watch TV all night without a "Shoo! Do I hafta?" at bedtime. It is a lot less work for a parent to allow a child to go to bed with unwashed face, unbrushed teeth, and an empty stomach than to fight the battle of actual preparation at the end of the day. Yet we continue to battle, and eventually the "do I haftas" become, "OK, Dad."

Christians are no different! "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him" (1 John 3:1). God has given us His commandments to help us grow healthy and strong in the faith. He wants us to remain clean from worldliness. When we disregard His command to grow by partaking of spiritual milk and food (Hebrews 5:12-14), we become stunted in our growth as children of God. When we refuse to repent and ask God to forgive our sins, we become like the child who avoids his responsibility to bathe. We become spiritually soiled. When we choose to walk around in a spiritual house cluttered with worldliness, we become like the child who runs from picking up his toys or dirty clothes from the floor, where they were carelessly thrown. No wonder so many of us trip and fall!

There is one final lesson here, and it is the one that shocked me into writing this. I asked my son where he had picked up this ugly habit of "Shooing" every time I tell him to do something. Without a word, he looked me straight in the eye and pointed his finger at me. "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children" (Ephesians 5:1). We must be careful about what we give them to imitate.

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

By David Ramey

Return to the General Articles page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /