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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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DO NOT SIN AGAINST THE CHILD

One man said,"I never got along with my dad. Kids used to come up to me and say, `My dad can beat up your dad' I'd say, `Yeah? When?' " Jesus Himself predicted a time and a place when "a man's foes will be those of his own household" (Matthew 10:36). Family dysfunction and violence began with history's very first family when Cain killed his brother Abel. When God confronted him about what he had done, Cain tried to shrug it off like it was no big deal. But it was a big deal to God, and the incident literally left Cain a marked man for the rest of his life (see Genesis 4:1-13). Genesis 42:22 (King James version) records the anguished words of Reuben, Jacob's oldest son, to his brothers twenty years after they sold their youngest brother, Joseph, as a slave to a group of strangers. As he and his brothers looked back with guilt and grief on the sorry way they had treated Joseph, Reuben spoke these words -- "Spoke I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required" (the entire account of this sad time of sibling hatred and dysfunction in the patriarch Jacob's family can be read in Genesis 37). Reuben's words send a strong message concerning our treatment of children. "Do not sin against the child." In spite of this, thousands of children are abused in America each year. Sociologists struggle to understand the dynamics and forces which cause adults to beat, burn, berate, strangle, drown, sexually assault or otherwise harm little children. If there are any "victims" in America, they are the helpless and, innocent children who are sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by adults who themselves are held captive to the dysfunction the Bible calls sin. Added to this, violence toward children is allowed to extend into the womb through legalized abortion, making the womb the most dangerous place in our nation for a child to live.

Jesus spoke of the value of children in Mark 10:14 when He said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them. For of such is the kingdom of heaven." How would Jesus Christ feel about child abuse? We don't have to guess about that. Matthew 18:5-6 records some of the most graphic and frightening words the Son of God ever uttered,  "Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Jesus' stark words should compel all of us to see — we can't sin against a child without sinning against God.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ