Short episodes of this Canadian Broadcast Company kids show, called Small Talk, have found their way to my Facebook news feed. It is a well-produced show and I don’t have a problem recommending it.
However, I want to use this short clip as an example of why we need to keep faith issues first and foremost when talking with our children.
This is a good show, and a good topic, but it is not presented from Christian values. In fact, it is a good way to see just how different the secular idea of “goodness” is from the Christian idea.
These children are young and their answers reflect their moral development. They see goodness as being a characteristic rather than a behavior and frame it as obedience. The only problem with the show is that a viewer is left with the impression that goodness is what we create on our own.
So what is the problem with this? Shouldn’t we want our children to try to do good things? Absolutely! But they need to know the truth about how that is done.
Thinking we are in charge of our own goodness leads some to manipulate “goodness” for their own gain, or leaves others sorting people into “good” and “bad” categories as if we are one or the other. (Need evidence of this? Just spend some time reading social media politics.)
This is why the Christian truth about goodness is so important for children to understand. Here are five Christian truths about goodness that will give your child a proper perspective on the subject:
We cannot be good on our own. At first glance this seems like a mean thing to tell a child. But it is important to understand this truth and it comes with good news - God created us, saved us, and works in our hearts.
We are, at the same time, both good and bad. We are sinners who are justified by Jesus’ death and resurrection. We continue to sin and God continues to forgive. We don't fit into one category or the other. We are not all good or all bad. We are God's children and He wants what is best for us.
We want to do good in order to respond to God’s love for us. We don't earn God's blessing by being good. We do good because we respond to the love of God that is in our hearts.
We need to do good to spread the love of God in His world. When God helps us to do good things we can share His love with others and make our sinful world a little bit more livable.
We can only do good through the help of the Holy Spirit. Nothing we do on our own is good, but we can participate in the goodness of God.
It is good for children, and adults, to understand that we are all sinners in a sinful world and can only be made good through God. Armed with these truths about goodness your child will better understand that goodness is a response not a responsibility. That makes a huge difference in how goodness can become a treasured value for your child.