Cherishing Children in a Culture of Contempt

A couple of years ago, a dear, long-time friend of our family went to be with the Lord after a hard battle with cancer. It had been years since I’d seen her, but her death evoked a great deal of grief in me. As I reflected on our interactions, I realized—at least in part—why her death had made such an impact: throughout my childhood, she’d gone out of her way to show me love. 

Her small acts of kindness might have seemed simple—things like styling my hair for a piano recital, teaching me how to make snowman earrings out of beads, and offering beaming smiles and warm hugs as she greeted me. Each one demonstrated that I was cherished even though I wasn’t her own child.

Through the death of this saint, I was startled and saddened as the Lord revealed a subtle lack of warmth in my own heart toward kids that aren’t my own flesh and blood. Had you asked, I would've said I love all children. I’ve spent my whole life around little kiddos. I had six younger siblings, babysat regularly as a teen, and now have six kids of my own. Yet I knew God wanted to give me a greater love for kids. So I decided that, by His grace, I want to carry on the baton our friend left behind. I want to love children extravagantly, for His glory.

God’s Heart toward Children

I don’t think it’s a reach to say that we live in a society whose value system is defined by money, productivity, and anything that will serve us. It’s no wonder, then, that we see a widespread attitude that children are a hindrance to things considered “better” (like a job or cool experiences). Or, if they are wanted, children are looked at as something to have for the sake of our own happiness. 

Think about it: in many places, couples have the option to abort preborn children for any reason. And even though most people who claim the name of Christ are appalled at such a thought, our culture’s diminishment of children has crept into our mindset in more subtle ways. I’ve been told by more than one newly married woman that she and her husband were discouraged from having children until they’d traveled, built successful careers, bought a house, and done everything else they wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong—I’m all about couples considering finances, health, and life situations as they pray about the timing for welcoming children. But there’s a difference between making decisions based on wisdom or selfishness, and many of us think about having children through the lens of the latter. 

That’s why it’s so important that we ask God to give us His heart toward children. Our own, yes, but also children in general. Let’s look at a well-known account in Scripture that gets to the heart of this matter. 

Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Leave the little children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to me, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13–14)

The disciples clearly viewed these children as an inconvenience and nuisance. But Jesus didn’t. His actions and words showed that children—just like adults—are image-bearers whom He loves and are worth His time and attention. This should be our starting place too. 

The Bible speaks about children as a “heritage” and “reward” (Psalm 127:3). They are given to us to steward in their sapling years, and we’re invited to invest in shaping their tender minds and hearts as they grow into the next generation of adults. Whether they’re ours or someone else’s, we have the gift and responsibility of pointing children back to the One who created them on purpose, for a purpose. 

Seeing Children through the Eyes of Faith

But sometimes this requires seeing children through the eyes of faith. Why? Because kids don’t make life easier for us—at least not in the short term. It’s a lot of work to train and care for them, and it often requires a healthy dose of patience. Kids have little ability to contribute to the productivity of a home during the first few years of their lives. They require sacrifice on many levels from the moment they come into the world. 

But isn’t that what Jesus came to do—”to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)? Jesus loved us, those who could do nothing for Him in return, so much that He gave His life to save us. We have the opportunity to express this kind of sacrificial love toward the children in our lives, pointing them back to the Savior through our love for and service toward them.

Our obedience in this area isn’t just used by God for the benefit of the children—He grows us through it too. He increases our capacity to grasp His love for us as we seek to faithfully live it out toward “the least of these.” We also begin to see more clearly in ourselves and others the childlikeness that Jesus praised, which should mark our faith as we seek to love kids the way God does. 

As I’ve observed those in my life who love children exceptionally well, here are a few things that I’m seeking to implement more intentionally in my interactions with them.


Have you ever noticed what happens when you make eye contact with and smile at a child? There’s an almost-instant reaction, even in babies. Some might turn away bashfully, but often their whole countenance lights up. They recognize this unspoken display of care. We can start by asking ourselves: Is my demeanor toward children one of delight and warmth? Even if I need to offer some kind of instruction, am I doing it in a way that communicates care? We can start by asking the Lord to help us know how best to display His love through our attitude and expressions.


This is something we as adults understand: it means a lot when someone listens. And it’s no different for kids. We can all tell the difference between someone who pretends to be listening and someone who’s truly listening. One of my favorite things is watching the look on my children’s faces when an adult asks them a question about something that is important to them. They’re thrilled for a chance to share, and I can tell they feel like they matter. Even my more reserved kiddos will eventually open up with someone who has a listening disposition. We can all start by asking, How can I grow in being a faithful listener to the kids in my life? 


A long-time friend (who happens to rent our basement) is one of those people exceptionally gifted in displaying love to kids. It’s a regular occurrence to receive texts from her that say something like, “Would your kids enjoy a smoothie?” Or, “I baked some muffins—can I share some with the kids?” She remembers their birthdays, and always has a little something for them. She’s an incredible example of living out 1 John 3:18, which says, “Little children, let us not love in word or in speech, but in action and in truth.” I love that she beautifully displays this toward actual little children. 

Being a picture of generosity is one way to simply and tangibly display love to kids. Often more effective than words, it at minimum reinforces the words we do say. It might be as simple as a snack or a sheet of stickers: but it clearly communicates, “You are loved.” I must add here that showing respect and deference to the parents or guardians of the children we interact with is a must. It’s important for both the kids andparents to have clear evidence that we are, indeed, loving them “in truth.” 

That said, when others love my kids well it ministers to my heart too.

Most kids will face countless people in this world who won’t display God’s love to them. By His grace, may that not be our legacy. As we look to Jesus, He will teach us how to love these little “neighbors” of ours, using us to leave an imprint on their lives that will impact future generations for His glory. 

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About the Author

Heather Cofer

Heather Cofer

Heather Cofer is a wife and mother of six living in northern Colorado with a passion for encouraging women to love Jesus. She is the author of Expectant: Cultivating a Vision for Christ-Centered Pregnancy, and has also written for Set … read more …

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