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The Immense Spiritual Capacity of Children

The Immense Spiritual Capacity of Children

It is remarkable, when you think of it, to realize that the Magnificat was the spontaneous outburst of praise from the lips of a young, teenage, peasant girl. Yet there is enough profound truth here to boggle the mind of the most educated theologian.

How does a simple teenager like Mary produce such a brilliant composition that it stands as one of the most celebrated hymns in the liturgy of the Church?

She has obviously been steeped in the Scriptures from her childhood. She has memorized and meditated on God’s Word. So much so that we find quotations and allusions from at least fourteen different Old Testament passages—especially from 1 Samuel 2, Hannah’s song.

Like an experienced quilter, stitching together different pieces of fabric to create something beautiful, Mary takes the fabric of Scripture that she is so familiar with and forms it into a magnificent hymn of praise.

Let us follow her example! Let us treasure God’s Word, so that we will be ready to magnify God’s glory no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

But there's an additional instructive element for us in this, and Kent Hughes captures it well in his expositional commentary on Luke:

"Mary, despite her young age, sharing with the rest of humanity the imago Dei, had immense spiritual capacity ... She understood deep theological realities, as her Magnificat [attests]. Though Mary was so young, the world sings of her amazing obedience. The church must never make the mistake of minimizing or patronizing its youth. Children must be taken seriously. Teenagers must be intelligently challenged. The church must invest deeply in the spiritual nurture and discipling of it young."

Parents, in the festive hustle & bustle of these holidays, let us remember to weave the sacred Scriptures into our conversations with our children. When we do so, we are planting living seeds of truth that will fortify their faith so that they too will be ready, like Mary, to respond in the obedience of submission to whatever challenges God may bring them down the road: "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).

May we pray for our children as Luke did for Theophilus, "that [they] may know the certainty" of the things they have been taught (Luke 1:4).

Let us hold on to our confidence in the potency of the Word of God—may it's influence over our homes be much more pervasive and profound than social media and entertainment. May we train our children from their earliest days to love God's Word, so that in their adulthood we can say to them as Paul did to Timothy: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you have learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:14-15).

Along these lines, let me say how thankful I am for a church that takes seriously the instruction of our children and youth in the Scriptures. Recently I read a Facebook post from one of our mothers of young children, and she was commenting on how grateful she was to have a meaningful conversation with her kids about the lessons they were learning in Sunday School. To all the teachers, leaders, and mentors of children's and youth ministries, know this: your labor in the Lord is not in vain!Thank you for believing in the immense spiritual capacity of our children, and more importantly, for believing in the infinite potency of God's Word. May the Holy Spirit empower you as you continue to "teach them to obey" all that Christ has commanded us in his Holy Scriptures (Matt. 28:18-20).


David Sunday