In a recent study presented in the Norwegian journal Science, researchers found that there are some commonalities between 10-year-olds and adults who expect government entitlements to supply their needs. The differences within these groups and other groups lie in their views regarding equal and unequal rewards received by people. On the one hand, 10-year-olds tend to believe that everyone should receive equal rewards regardless of achievements. This seems to be much like the “participation ribbon or trophy” where there are no real winners and losers. On the other hand, adults who were generally politically conservative, believed that people deserve unequal rewards based on their individual and unequal achievements.
In this study, they found that the, “…meritocratic views (get what you earn) increases as the cognitive abilities of the children mature. In other words: kids outgrow socialism.” Also quoted in this article are the findings of the University of Virginia’s moral psychologist, Jonathan Haidt. Haidt finds that, “liberals focus on one kind of fairness, where everyone’s needs are met to some degree. Conservatives…see fairness when people are rewarded for their efforts…”
This exemplifies the need to mature as whole individuals. We all have the need to be changing, growing, reaching maturity in all aspects of life. This includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth. If any of these are allowed to become stagnant, then imbalances occur. In the example above, when young people are not taught to push past the thoughts and understanding of children, then the foundation is set for expecting entitlements. Conversely, when we train our children to mature in their thinking and emotions, then strong principles of morality and more conservative thought forms their foundations.
In God’s Word, the Bible, we see many examples of the need for growing and maturing (Zechariah, Luke 1:80; Jesus, Luke 2:52; 2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 1:10). We are not expected to remain stuck in our childish ways, but rather, to grow, mature and understand God’s ways. We are admonished to, “Study to present yourself to God as one approved…” 2 Timothy 2:15 (see also: 2 Peter 3:18 and 1 Thessalonians 2:4-5).
Therefore, as Christians we are to make concerted efforts to train those that God has given to us for instruction. We cannot simply “hope for the best”, but work diligently to teach our families and congregations to study and understand what God’s ways are. Ask the appropriate questions for our churches and families to discover whether or not we are accomplishing this. Family devotions that train, ministries of study and training in our churches, including Sunday School, Youth Ministry and Bible Studies that teach the deep truths of doctrine and Christian life are crucial to move our children and others along to Christian maturity. Then we are prepared to be positive influences in our culture as well.
Set a goal for yourself, your family and church to be able to say along with the Apostle Paul, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (adult), I put childish ways behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11.
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