(Image courtesy of prozac1 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
In my opinion, one of the main reasons teachers and parents hesitate to teach young children about the wages of sin is to protect their self-esteem. We don’t want children to feel bad about themselves. But that begs the question: Are they (and we) supposed to feel good about sin? Will avoiding the issue of sin help our children? Or will it tend to give them a foolish and dangerous image of themselves? Will they desperately seek the Savior if they don’t first understand and grasp the danger they are in? Here is a real-life example: A teacher was alarmed because, after teaching a lesson about how we are all sinners and are helpless to save ourselves, one young child in the class broke down in tears. The teacher felt bad about the incident and wondered if we should be teaching this hard truth to children this age. Here is a way to approach this concern: First, we must not hide this important truth from our children…it is essential if our children are to be saved. The reality of our sin and God’s judgment are essential truths of the Gospel message. Second, the fact that the child wept about being a sinner and felt a sense of helplessness is actually a very good sign that there is a sensitivity to the terribleness of sin. The Holy Spirit may genuinely be at work in the child’s heart, bringing about godly grief and repentance. Third, this is a great opportunity! I counseled the teacher to contact the parents about what had happened (they were believers), and use this as an opportunity, not to try to make the child feel better about himself—giving him the mirror of self-esteem and saying, “Look, see? You’re okay just as you are.” Instead, give the child a window through which to see a wonderful Savior, who stands ready to save you from all your sin!