|Volume 24 Number 5 May 2022
T. Pierce Brown
It has been said that a mother once asked, “At what age should I begin to teach my child?” The person replied, “How old is he now?” The mother said, “Two years.” His response was, “You have already lost about two years.”
Recent studies indicate that babies may begin to learn some things even before they are born. However, it is a fallacy to suppose that children will love their homes and learn properly from them just because they eat and sleep there. Wise parents will not only try to make their children satisfied and happy in their home environment, but they will also try to make home a place where good memories will be created that will serve good purposes in the difficult years that lie ahead.
Parents should provide room and occasion somewhere in the house for indoor activities that will charm, educate and improve the child so that he will not be restless for the street when school hours are over. Projects should also be included to broaden his interest in nature, hobbies or other things that will enrich his life as he grows older. If parents would deliberately find ways to create in their children a love and a respect for nature as part of God’s heritage, and a love of study and learning about all that is around them, great results could follow. The child will then be interested in where we came from, what our purpose in life is, how to achieve that purpose and what our spiritual destiny is to be. The answer to those questions can come only from God’s Word, an intense study of which will be profitable for this world and the world to come.
Parents cannot start too early to develop these inquisitive minds in their children and should never say or do anything that would dampen their normal desire to know things. Their questions may sometimes seem to have little significance or value, but parents should encourage all desire to learn truth while letting their children know in humility that humans simply do not have answers for all questions of life. God reveals only those things that we need to know to make life happier and more productive.
It is probable that there will be time later to help children learn to ‘avoid foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they do gender strife’ (2 Timothy 2:23). This admonition has reference, not to the inquisitive minds of children about all the things that may be of interest to them, but of religious questions about things God has not revealed, and which, if one knew, would not be of any value. These are the kinds of things Paul mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:14 where people ‘strive about words to no profit, subverting the hearers.’ If you start early enough, you can help children to learn about the things that would be valuable enough to spend time learning and also about those that would not matter even if they found the answers.
[Editor’s Note: Babies learn more things more rapidly, perhaps, in the first two or three years of life than they may ever learn at any other time in their lives. For instance, they learn a foreign language (to them), how to feed themselves, how to dress themselves, how to use a toilet and how to manipulate siblings and adults to get what they want. While our young children are most like little sponges – absorbing everything they can from their environments – is an ideal time to introduce them to God the Son (Jesus Christ, our Savior), God the Father (Who receives our prayers) and God the Spirit (Who gave us the Bible). From infants to adolescents, Christian parents need to expose their offspring to Christian worship as a family, to consistent, godly, daily Christian living and to heartfelt Christian service. One important way to grow and to sustain any local congregation of the Lord’s church is populate it with children of faithful and earnest Christian parents. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Solomon Examined Happiness
We live in an age where people do not feel that they are bound by honor, commitment and principle. Instead, they live their lives looking for what makes them happy. They will argue that all God really wants is for them to be happy or if they are happy, God must be as well.
Ecclesiastes may be the single most applicable book of the Old Testament to our lives today. It is the account of Solomon’s search for truth and for the purpose of our existence on this earth. It details the various ways and means by which he tested what had value in life and how it all brought him back to the conclusion that the ultimate purpose of a life that would not end empty (in vanity) is to “Fear God, and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NKJV). Within his trials and studies, Solomon focused one section on pleasure and happiness. Notice what he said.
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter – “Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives. I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)
Solomon examined the notion that the purpose of life was found in happiness. He luxuriated himself in all the things that brought him pleasure, and yet, he still found it to be empty. We must understand that a fulfilling purpose in life is not found in the happiness that the things of this world provide, whether possessions, sexuality, work or other physical things. It is for this reason that so many people waste their lives looking for true happiness and never find it. Instead, true happiness with purpose is only found when we lay up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), seek after God’s will and fulfill His Word in our lives. This is the only measure of life that extends beyond this empty existence and leaves a man’s life full and complete. It is the measure of a “blessed” life (the term in the original Greek simply meaning “happy”) according to Jesus (Matthew 5:3-12) and David (Psalm 1:1-3).
Can we serve God and be happy? Absolutely. Nevertheless, we must observe, as Solomon did, that any happiness which leaves God and His will out of the picture is empty and will leave man feeling so.