Like many of you, when I was a kid my parents taught me to respect my elders. This principle confused me early on in my childhood because I assumed that the reason why I should respect my elders is because they didn’t mess up or sin like I did. The adults in my life did a good job of keeping their sin bottled up around us kids and so it wasn’t too hard for me to believe that when they grew up, they grew out of sin.
Even though I heard the gospel often and was familiar with its content, I felt more like the answer to my sin problem was “to do better” or “be better” as it seemed was exemplified by so many of the adults I knew. Years later, as I was transitioning from high school to college, I saw what I considered to be one of the most morally reputable people I knew do something horribly wrong. This became one of the factors God used to draw me to the realization that no one is good and we all need the righteousness of Christ to be saved.
Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, an uncle or aunt, a children’s Sunday school teacher, or a member of a local church, please do all you can to prevent the children in your life from being confused about their ultimate need. You can do this by modeling repentance. If you verbally snap at them, ask their forgiveness. If you look out for your good before theirs, ask their forgiveness. If you are impatient with them, ask their forgiveness. Then explain to them that you’re a sinner too and you need Jesus just as much as they do.
Children who grow up hearing the gospel may cognitively understand its components, but taking steps like the ones above can bring life and clarity to all the words they hear in church and family worship.