Imagine with me, if you will, that your children are little cherubs instead of mere humans. (I know, I know, this is an inaccurate view of both children and of angels, but bear with the thought experiment.)
Suppose your little cherubs, instead of being in your care every day and every night, were instead entrusted to your care only during the day, and you were to return them to their heavenly Father every evening. What would they report to Him?
Would they climb up on His lap, throw their arms around Him and say, “Oh, Father, I had the most wonderful day! This ‘mother’ you have given me is so kind! She is so much like You!”
Or would the child perhaps say through a sniffle, “Oh, Father! She yelled and yelled and yelled! I wanted her to see my picture, but she was too busy. I wanted her to play with me, but she had ‘work’ to do. And when I cried, she yelled and scolded me even more. Oh, I wish I could just be with You.”
Or perhaps, “Oh, Father, today was rough. I disobeyed ‘mother’ and she spanked me. She told me to talk to You about it, too. I’m sorry. She said she would talk to You, too, since she yelled when she didn’t want to. I guess we both need You. Will You help ‘mother’ and me to be more like You?”
Or perhaps, “Umm… Hi. Do You really love me? This woman who You gave me to isn’t very nice. She says she loves you and that I should, too, but she ignores me, and when she doesn’t ignore me, she hits me. And I don’t even know what I did wrong. Are You even there?”
Point being: If we could imagine the report our children would give to God each day were they to literally go and sit on His lap, how would that change the way we treat them? And besides a report that could be given, how does our behavior coupled with our claims to follow Christ add up in their little heads? Do we put a stumbling block in front of them? Do we upset their faith by our lack of self-control?
Or do we, by both consistent love and consistent training (and confessing humility when it is–so often–needed), demonstrate the heart of the God who gave His own Son so that these precious little ones could someday call Him Father?
Now, the Bible is clear—children are not angels—angels are more like bright, shining, terrifying mighty-men than like the silly little cherub images that humanity has conjured up. But Jesus does say in Matthew 18:10,
See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
Directly preceding this verse is the exhortation to pluck out our eye or cut off our hand if it causes us to sin. Do we take Jesus’ command to “not despise” our children this seriously? What gets in the way of loving our children the way we ought? Are we willing to part with whatever it is? For their sake? For the sake of the glory and gospel of Christ? In the very fear of God?