I love children! And God does, too!
I teach English at Japanese elementary schools in our town. It is so neat to see the similarities and differences between American and Japanese education. On one hand, children are children, no matter their culture. And on the other hand, there are ingrained cultural ideals regarding respect for adults and the value of education. Japanese children have really helped me to fall in love with Japan, where I was rather resistant to liking it at first.
I have witnessed such kindness in the students. For one, they always greet adults, and I am now known throughout the schools as “Love sensei”. They enthusiastically greet me with waves and high fives, attempting to communicate with me in Japanese (which I unfortunately understand very little). But it is in their little acts of kindness toward each other that have really touched my heart.
A few months ago, I brought in American candies for my classes. They were each given the opportunity to practice a conversational exchange and pick a piece of candy. They didn’t ask for more, but gratefully accepted one piece, careful not to take too much time in choosing out of respect for those after them. But in one of my first grade classes, a couple of students were out that day. I was able to communicate to the teacher that I wanted to leave a treat for those students as well, and she selected other students to stand in place of the absent children and choose a piece. These little first graders took the task so seriously! They spent more time trying to select the perfect piece of candy that they thought their friends might enjoy than they spent selecting their own piece! I remember feeling so touched by their thoughtfulness.
And just today, I was in a third grade class that was doing a craft to make a Christmas tree out of their handprints. They were passing back pieces of construction paper, and one student accidentally dropped the piece that was to go to the young lady behind him. He reached down to retrieve the sheet, and instead of handing it to her, he gave her the clean sheet from his own desk and took the one that had fallen on the floor. No one else noticed this little act of kindness, but I did, and though I cannot speak Japanese, I tried to communicate through a reassuring smile that I saw what he did and I thought it was great.
Of course, I do not mean to say that Japanese children are the only ones that show kindness to their peers. I’ve worked with American children for many years, and know that they also demonstrate such kindness. I just work with Japanese children predominately these days, and I remember in each of these incidents hearing a whisper from the Lord from the scripture in Philippians 2:3-4
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Each student I remember chose to put the needs of his/her peers first. How often to we do such things? How often are we more concerned with making sure our own needs are taken care of that we are careless toward our brothers and sisters around us?
Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Lue 18:16b KJV
The kingdom of God is made up of those with pure hearts, who demonstrate kindness and humility and love toward others. May we take the time to learn to act like the sweet children in our lives, showing little and great acts of kindness to those around us. Even if they are never seen or acknowledged by others around us, God sees and remembers.
Walk in love, and in the pure faith of a child!