A recent Sherlock Holmes episode portrayed a fictitious story of a thief who broke into the Tower of London and stole the crown jewels. Likely many of the world travelers who visit England this week will stop in and see them. The collection includes the regalia of the British Monarchy such as crowns, orbs, rings, and bracelets. On the top of the scepter is a famous 530 carat cut diamond, the largest in the world. One crown is set with 3,000 gems alone. The person seeing these treasures might say, “My, those jewels are heavenly.”
The world might call its jewels heavenly, but the jewels of Christ are heavenly jewels. Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.” Our children need not wait for the heavenly regalia. In giving them God’s Word we give them crowns that sparkle more than all the gold of England. Through daily prayer, learning the catechism by heart, living by faith in Christ, we crown their lives with peace and joy.
In a sermon on marriage and family life in 389 A.D., St. John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople addressed his people:
“This is how to discipline and teach your child; this is the greatest riches. Don’t worry about giving him an influential reputation for worldly wisdom, but ponder deeply how you can teach him to think lightly of this life’s passing glories; thus he will become truly renowned and glorious. Whether you are poor or rich, you can do this; these lessons are not learned from a skillful professor, but from divine revelation. Don’t ask how he can enjoy a long life here, but how he can enjoy an infinite and eternal life in the age to come. Give him the great things, not the little things. Don’t strive to make him a clever orator, but teach him to love true wisdom. He will not suffer if he lacks clever words; but if he lacks wisdom, all the rhetoric in the world can’t help him. A pattern of life is what is needed, not empty speeches; character, not cleverness; deeds, not words. These things will secure the Kingdom and bestow God’s blessings. Don’t sharpen his tongue, but purify his soul. I don’t mean that worldly learning is worthless and to be ignored, but it should not be an exclusive preoccupation.
Preparing your children for life does not mean sending them to school or teaching them math and science. Giving your children a future does not mean making sure they have new shoes and clothes to wear for a new school year. Raising them properly means giving them the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers all their sins and teaching them the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Continue on in these things! Give up all else that you may obtain them! In due season you will reap if you do not lose heart.
Recently the verse listed above (Proverbs 1:8-9) was the reading for the day in Matins. Later I asked Lily why she was smirking while I was preaching. “Dad,” she said, “I would rather have the real jewels.” Such is our sin that what we want are the very treasures that rot, decay, and rust-the treasures that at “life’s last portal” are of absolutely no help. Are we demonstrating in our lives a quest for the real jewels, or sadly do the crowns and necklaces of God’s riches lay like those forgotten treasures in an old jewelry box? When the mammon of life fails, when the world disappoints, when the treasure box disappears, when the dream job is lost, then what? Better the child who is prepared to meet the world with the Apostle Paul’s “in all things I have learned to be content,” for there is a child who realizes that in such situations they have lost nothing at all.
St. John Chrysostom said,
“Make him into a Christian! Why are you afraid of something so good? It is necessary for everyone to know Scriptural teachings, and this is especially true of children. Even at their age they are exposed to all sorts of folly and bad examples from popular entertainments. Our children need remedies for all these things! We are so concerned with our children’s schooling; if only we were equally zealous in bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! And we wonder why we reap such bitter fruit ...”
This school year, dear parents, seek not for jewels that are heavenly. Through daily and weekly worship, prayer, memorizing of the catechism, and study of God’s Word at home, show them that your desire instead is for the heavenly jewels.