Thursday, December 3, 2009

Well-Timed Exhortations and Reproofs on Parenting

In this present season of life, the thing that seems to consume a lot of well-placed energy is parenting. One of the struggles I grapple with daily is to walk the fine line of not bearing the responsibility of producing pharisaical children, while at the same time, helping my children realize that rules and standards have a role to play for their spiritual good.

I know, in my head, that the answer to that dilemma is found in the Gospel. The difficulty comes in applying Gospel-based parenting to day-to-day, situation-to-situation life. I pray daily for God's help in this.

In His kindness, God led me to two quotes today to help me out. I post these in their entirety to perhaps help out those of you who face similar struggles.

This first one comes from Chris Brauns:

Below are two messages that parents of young children should memorize.

The Bible instructs parents to love their children. But, the Bible does not define love as squishy sentimentalism that gives children whatever they want whenever they ask for it.

In fact, Scripture says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Pr 13:24) Parents who truly love their children consistently discipline them.

As the parent of four children, I do not enjoy disciplining my children. But, one sentence I learned early on is very helpful. In the context of discipline I have learned to say and think:

Message #1: I love you too much to teach you that you can make bad choices without any consequences. As someone has said, “Choose to sin, choose to suffer.” Don’t be deceived God cannot be mocked. You reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7-8).

Or, when my children are upset with me because they think I am too protective, I say and think this:

Message #2: All your life, I have been willing to die for you. I can honestly tell you that it came down to your life or my life, I would give up mine on your behalf. So, if I am willing to die for you, then having you upset with me because I am protecting you is a relatively small thing in my world. If protecting you, means you being mad at me, then so be it.”

Parents, if you are unwilling to discipline your children then you are being unloving to them.

“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Pr 13:24)

The second comes from Elyse Fitzpatrick, as posted by Timmy Brister on the Grace Baptist Church of Cape Coral, FL website.

“Parents who forget that they are law breakers expect their children to keep the law and to make them look good. They expect children who exhibit exemplary respect and self-discipline. Such parents are self-righteous and proud, and all too often they put confidence in themselves, their ability to obey God, and their methodology for extracting obedience from their children. They forget that the Lord didn’t save or bless them because they were law keepers but, rather, because they weren’t.

Although they may know they have failed to keep the law–loving God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and their neighbor as themselves–they give their children the law (or house rules) and expect perfect compliance the first time and every time, with a happy heart. Such parents are harsh and impatient and tempted to anger when their children fail. Although they might know the law doesn’t change the heart (and is, in fact, a ministry of death [2 Cor. 3:7]), they expect the law to change the hearts of their children. They forget that they have been adopted and brought into the family, not only as those who misunderstood and slipped up from time to time, but as defiant rebels. Have parents consistently obeyed God the first time and every time, with a happy heart? Children need what parents need–the gospel. Certainly children need to learn God’s law and to have house rules to follow, but gospel-oriented parents give the law to show children their need for a Savior, not to make them obedient.”

- Elyse Fitzpatrick, Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the love of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 159 (emphasis mine).

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