how much is the soul of your child?
Have you ever wondered how much is the soul of your child worth? Insurance companies can calculate the value of a child’s physical life in terms of dollar and cents. The judicial courts can also set a monetary amount for compensation upon the death of a person. People can put a figure to a human life but can we put a value to a human soul, namely, the soul of a child?
In Mark 8: 36, Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” We can infer from Jesus’ statement that a person’s soul is more precious than all the riches the world can offer.
In Mark 9: 42, Jesus also warned; “Whoever causes one of these little ones (children) who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” This passage teaches us that Jesus placed a very high value on a child’s soul and judgment will come upon those who lead children astray from Him.
So what is the value of the soul of a child? How much should we spend and how important is it to nurture a child’s soul, that he / she may know God?
In Singapore, parents spend a large amount of money and time on their children’s education and enrichment activities. According to TheAsianParent.com, it costs about S$340,000 to raise a child from birth to the age of 21 years old in Singapore. The Department of Statistics reported that parents spend about S$820 million on centre- and home-based private tuition for their child. Parents do not bat an eyelid in spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars for their children to excel academically.
I know of children whose daily schedules are more packed than a working adult. Immediately after school, these children have to attend tuition and enrichment programs until late at night. On Sunday, they are also not spared from having to attend such activities. I am not saying that tuition and enrichment programs are not important but in the light of Jesus’ statement in Mark 8: 36 and 9: 42, how much time and attention should parents give or invest to nurture and develop the faith and spiritual life of their children? Isn’t the eternal life or the soul of their children worth more than the top PSLE awards bestowed by the world?
The Home, God’s Conduit for Faith
At St Andrew’s Cathedral, I am happy that our Christian parents regularly bring their children to our Sunday school ministry to learn about God and the Bible. We have a wonderful team of committed Sunday school teachers but our time with the children is short and limited. A Sunday school session usually lasts about one to two hours, which consists of singing, praying and learning about God and the Bible. This constitutes only 2 hours out of the 168 hours a child has in a week, or 1.19% of a child’s entire week. As such, a typical Sunday school program is inadequate to meet the spiritual or “soul” needs of a child.
Christian parents must not make the mistake of putting the responsibility of the Christian education of their children solely on the Sunday school teachers, thinking that they themselves are not equipped to educate their own children on spiritual matters. In truth, parents are the best spiritual mentors for their children’s spiritual growth. The home is God’s fundamental conduit for Christian education and the parents are the child’s primary source of spiritual influence. The Bible speaks of this very clearly, especially in the Shema, a centrepiece of Jewish prayer and spirituality (Deut 6:4-9).
“Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
I strongly encourage our Christian parents to give attention and time to build the heart and soul of their children, by praying with them and reading the Bible together with them. Do not say, “I cannot afford the time”. If Jesus considers a person’s soul as more valuable than the riches of the world and wants the young ones to come to Him, parents should be ready to make sacrifices and exercise their God-given responsibility to daily invest in the child’s spiritual well-being.
Parents, you are the most effective builder or teacher of your children’s faith. You serve as the most experienced stewards and wardens of your children’s souls. You are the most powerful propagators of the Gospel for future generations to come.
How much is your child’s soul? It is worth more than what the world can ever promise or give.
Author: Mr. Hambali Leonardi (Hambali is the Chairman of the Children & Youth Committee which oversees the children and youth ministries of St Andrew’s Cathedral Singapore.)
Published in The Courier, January 2013.