In his discourse on greatness in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus also makes it very clear how God feels about children.
First, he gives us a warning. “Don’t do things that would cause a child to sin.”
If that isn’t clear enough, he tells us,
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! (Matthew 18:6-7)
He then goes on to say you’d be better off to maim yourself than to do something that would cause a child to sin.
Why is Jesus so vehement about this? Because children are impressionable. They learn from what they see us do. And if they see us losing our temper all the time, that’s what they’ll do. If they see us taking our spouse for granted, they will learn to do the same when they get married. And if we abuse them, they will tend to abuse their children when they become parents.
So be careful how you act around your children, because God will hold you accountable for it.
He also warns us, however,
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)
God cares so much about children, that he assigns angels to them to watch over them. And if God so cares about them, how can we dare see them as any less valuable. To push them aside as unimportant or insignificant. To see them as anything less than the treasures God has entrusted us with.
He then compares them to sheep that are lost, and how God will do anything to save them. He concludes by saying,
In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (Matthew 18:14)
A couple things here. I do believe there is an age of accountability. That there is a point when a child will be held responsible for their sin. What that age is, I don’t know. My guess is that it would depend on the child. Whenever they become aware of their sin, and that it’s really wrong, that’s when they will be held accountable for it.
Second, just because it says that the Father is not willing that any of the little ones be lost does not mean that they cannot be lost. It says in II Peter 3:9 that God is not willing that any should perish but that all would repent. But in that same passage, Peter makes clear that people will perish if they don’t repent. And so will children if they willfully reject God in their lives.
So let us treasure our children. Let us value them as God does. And let us preach the gospel clearly to them so that they may be saved too.