Walter Williams, renowned columnist and economist, once commented on what made former generations great and what has, by the same token, led to societal erosion in the last few generations. His basis conclusion was that a generation from the not too distant past gave their children honesty, integrity, discipline, and accountability, though they were not able to give them an abundance of material possessions. These children grew up focused, strong, and productive. But, when they grew up and began parenting, they were quite successful and were able to give their children abundant material things. Yet, giving their children everything they wanted, they unintentionally deprived their children of those greater virtues! Improvement might have been if they had given their kids those character-building traits and the goods. Yet, if there is to be a choice as to which is more needed, the race between character and cash is not remotely close.
The media has made the “debate” very public, asking how society can improve children’s health-care, daycare, and educational care, but cares little to nothing about their spiritual care. That responsibility befalls parents, who are to “train” them in this regard (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). Mother and father, in a majority of instances, are toiling at jobs outside the home to insure that their children have every social, intellectual, and physical advantages conceivable. These areas of life are vital, as evidenced in the life of the adolescent Christ (see Luke 2:52). But, what if these areas are met at the expense of spiritual training? Jesus reveals the answer. “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).
It is important to prepare one’s children for college, for his or her adult occupation, for social gracefulness, and for physical health. But this cannot be done at the expense of the more important, spiritual matters. Jesus scolded Martha for being too focused on the earthly, all the while overlooking the “one thing” which was “needful” (Lk. 10:41-42). Every child we bring into this world is an eternal being! What an important realization too few parents recognize! Give them the things needful to succeed in this life. Just do not rob them of the most important thing, the only “needful” thing there is!