Children Like Sponges
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51. Children Like Sponges

Absorb Everything

ChildrenAny good friendship is two-sided. There is the child's reaction to their teacher and the teacher's influence over their pupils in the Sunday school environment. Both are equally important. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), the Italian physician and educator in "The Absorbent Mind," referred to this phenomenon, writing, "From birth to age six, your child's brain works in a very different way than an adult does. Her mind is like a sponge at this age, soaking up huge amounts of information from her environment. She is absorbing everything around her, effortlessly, continuously, and indiscriminately." At its very best, we have children in school like sponges who absorb everything they see and hear. God, however, views children quite differently than we do. Jesus tells some disbelieving adults in Mark 10.15, "Truly I tell you, anyone, who will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." Jesus is saying that unless adults became like children who are childlike but not childish, they would never enter the Kingdom of God. Little ones have unique qualities that make them precious in God's sight. Barbara Johnson (1927-2007), the award-winning Christian author, may have quoted Ann Van Tassells Lincoln Lines, but once said, "Children are like sponges. They absorb all your strength and leave you limp. But squeeze them, and you get it all back." What a beautiful thought, and what a great challenge for the Sunday school teacher!✞

Meek Inherit Earth

African ChildrenThe meek inherit the earth. Observers must carefully and responsibly measure the children's reaction to the Gospel. Scrawled on a London wall were the words of Matthew 5.5, "The meek shall inherit the earth." Underneath, someone had added, "If that's O.K. with the rest of you." One of the most challenging problems in children's work is encouraging the little people in his or her care to a commitment to Jesus without this being a mark of the child's own natural desire to please. Ask a group of five to nine-year-olds which of them has asked Christ into their heart, invites all to respond, "Yes!" Some evangelists request instead that those interested remain behind to talk about it. Some will stay, however, because of their friends or simply because they are curious. Better to ask those who have made a positive response to write a short note to the leader and tell them about it. Only those who felt it was an important step will want to reply. Realize that the children will want to please a teacher and avoid persuasion, however gentle, towards this end.

Gypsy Smith

Gypsy Smith (Centre)Gypsy Smith (1860-1947) was a noted evangelist to the wandering Roma peoples in England. He was born in a tent in Epping Forest, raised in a Gypsy camp, and never attended a school - not even for a day! Towards the end of his life, he wrote, "I didn't go through your colleges and seminaries. They wouldn't have me, but I have been to the feet of Jesus, where I learned the only true scholarship." Someone asked him if there had been anyone saved at a service he had conducted. His reply was, "Yes, two and a half!" The questioner hesitated then suggested, "Oh, I see, two adults and one child." "No," answered Gypsy Smith, "two children and one adult!" Gipsy Smith understood the principle that the average child is closer to the Kingdom of God than the average adult. He knew that one of the characteristics that make children so different from adults is their naturally meek ability.✞

"Children Like Sponges"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2021

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