There was a time during the ministry of Jesus when the disciples thought that he was too busy to be bothered with the children. “Then there were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them and pray, and the disciples rebuked them” (Matthew 19:13). Evidently there were some parents that believed in Jesus and desired for their children to be blessed and prayed for by him. Of all of the centuries since the creation, only these parents during the three years of Jesus’ ministry would have had the privilege of having Jesus personally touch and pray for their children, but “the disciples rebuked them”. Did they think that Jesus was too busy to invest a few moments of time in these children? The disciples thought that Jesus was too busy, but he viewed it another way and responded to the disciples by saying “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:13). Jesus saw the value of encouraging these parents and the investing his own time in the lives of their children. Any time invested in the lives of children and young people is time well spent and in fact when the time relates to spiritual things it is an eternal investment.
Parents that are concerned about the spiritual destiny of their children will invest in the lives in their children. Paul wrote “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The term “fathers” does not just mean the male but includes the mother the word could easily have been translated parents. That is what the word includes in the original language and in general is the responsibility of mother and father. This passage suggests that the time invested in the life of the child should not be done in a negative manner. “Provoke not your children to wrath” indicates that parents might very well discourage their children to the point of doing what is wrong because of constantly criticizing, berating, or harshly disciplining their children. There is a time for discipline and constructive encouragement as suggested by Paul “but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”.
Time is invested in children’s lives by the parents when time and quality time is spent with their children helping them to grow and mature physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Luke wrote concerning the growth and maturity of Jesus, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Jesus’ parents Joseph and Mary were investing their lives in Jesus and the result was growth in all areas of life. They invested their lives and time in the spiritual life of Jesus as Luke records. “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover” (Luke 2:41). Jesus’ parents made sure that Jesus was in the company of spiritual people so that their positive influence would be an investment in his life. They must have also taught Jesus the Law because when he was in Jerusalem at the age of twelve “they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). They made sure that Jesus was where he should be concerning his relationship with God’s people and that positive investment in his life grew within him. As Christian parents we can follow the instructions of Paul and the example of Jesus’ parents to invest our lives in our children. Jesus was brought up in the nurture and admonition of God by his parents and that is the responsibility set before every Christian parent. The challenge of parenting in the way of the Lord has always been a challenge because of the negative influences of the world. The challenges are many in the twenty-first century, but the principles of spiritual success remain the same. Christian parents must spend time with their children in reading the Word of God together, in prayer, and together worshiping God so that children in every age can “increase in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”