Another popular sedan rolls off the assembly line. Its shiny paint and gleaming chrome invite you to take a closer look at its many details and qualities. The sedan not only looks sharp but is equipped with every feature you need to navigate the highways.
Another precious baby arrives in our home. She is tiny and helpless, and yet she comes fully equipped with the abilities she needs to go through life.
What is a child born with? What are the “factory default” settings of a baby? I think all of us that are parents have at times pondered this question as we watched our children from infancy start responding and interacting with those around them. As we see them becoming aware of themselves and their surroundings, we wonder what they are born with and what they are learning from others.
There are many sources to turn to for information, but it is of utmost importance that we turn to God’s Word and study what He teaches us about children.
Genesis 1:26-27, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” From these verses we clearly see that we are created in God’s image. Other scriptures also testify to this: Eph 2:10; Acts 17:28-29; 1Cor 11:7.
How are we created in the image of God? We are intelligent beings—we are the only thing that God created that can think rationally and communicate intelligent thoughts and ideas. We are emotional—nothing else God created is emotional in the sense that humans are. We have a will—none of God’s other creation is given the kind of intelligent free will that man has.
Furthermore, our children are not just a result of passing on our genetics. As people created by God in His image, our children come with the traits and characteristics that God has chosen for them. He has specifically designed each one to fill a vital role in His kingdom.
Secondly, our children are born sinners. As Paul states in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and so death passed upon all man, for that all have sinned.” For additional references that support this idea see 1Cor 15:21-22; 1John 1:8-10; Rom 3:23.
In addition, our children will not tend toward better and better behavior if left to themselves, as the humanists so fondly propose. They are born fleshly and will often allow their selfish desires to lead their behavior if not properly trained. Proverbs 22:15 states, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Do you teach your child to hoard his toys, run around the house pulling books off the shelves, hit other children, or throw food at mealtimes? Or does his ignorance of the consequences of certain actions and his natural carnality lead him into such behavior? If there is any doubt in your mind concerning the need for parental direction, look up the following verses and give them thoughtful consideration: Prov 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13, 29:15, 29:17.
Besides these two basic characteristics—the imprint of God, and a struggle with carnality—we should consider some other important characteristics native to children.
Children are born with the ability to love and the desire to be loved. What parent has not felt the clinging arms of the infant or heard the words “I love you” lisped by a young child? One of the central themes of the Bible is God’s love for man and His desire that man would love Him. We are created to receive and give love. If this were not the case, God’s love would be meaningless to humankind.
In a similar vein, children are born with respect and admiration for their parents. What child too young to know better has not said with honest faith, “My Dad can do anything”? Every child looks at their parents as hugely capable (often more capable than they really are). In a way, children are born with a desire to idolize someone. This is key because God wants that inborn desire to idolize and worship to be directed to Himself.
Every child also comes preset to learn and want to know. As we know, with all abilities there is a varying degree of aptness, but the abilities are there nonetheless. We can’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to learn, because so much of our lives consist of learning. The Bible is full of commands on learning about God’s ways and learning to become like Christ. Without the ability to learn, these would all be meaningless.
Finally, children are born with a desire to please. This desire is a real motivating factor in a child’s life. While there are times that parents wish their child were more willing to please them, and it seems like this ability is weak, it is still there and motivates the child. A child generally wants their parents to be happy with them. If a child senses that something is wrong between them and a parent, even if they don’t know the reason, it often makes them sad as well. God has given our children a desire to please us so that as they learn to know and love God, they will also want to please Him.
There are many other aspects that we could consider, but hopefully our look at some of “what our child is born with” will cause us to stop and think about the seriousness of the responsibility that God has entrusted to us. He has given us the solemn charge to mold and train these little ones in His ways. May God give us wisdom as we train up our child in the way that he should go.
~ North East, PA