How can you react when someone tries to undermine you as a parent or encourages something with your children that you do not agree with? Do you get mad or angry like a momma bear? (I used to.) How can you better react and still stay in the Spirit?
What ways can we rebuke un-Godliness and still be loving? Maybe it is a display of an un-Godly relationship or public drinking or something else that you have taught your children displeases the Lord?
How do you react when your small child asks a family member who is doing something wrong why they do that? Do you hush the child or make excuses? Is your reaction understandable to the child and in the Spirit?
These are the good questions being posed by Penny At the Well today. Head over there to see her entire post.
I've been pondering these questions this morning, as I've been doing my laundry and other chores.
To understand how to respond to anything in the Spirit, we need to think about what the Bible says about such matters. We need to think about what the Bible says in regards to the words that we would use with others, and how we should use them. Psalms 19 :14 says, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." Proverbs 15:1 tells us that "A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger." Verse 4 then tells us that " A soothing tongue is a tree of life...", and Ephesians 4:29-32 is very clear..."Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you with all malice. Be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you."
I think these verses make it pretty clear as to how we should address the actions of others that we might encounter, and how we can teach our children to respond to others as well.
One thing that I think we all need to remember also is that our children need to first be very grounded in the word of God, and understand what is sin, and what is not. Then, I feel, that we need to help our children see that the unbeliever cannot be held to the same standards as the believer. We teach our children that there is a different standard. An unbeliever does not need us to point out sin in their lives, without also pointing out that everyone sins, and that there is a Savior who died to save them from their sins. If our children understand that compassion for the lost, and a genuine desire to see them come to true repentance, should supercede our desire to change their behavior, they will have a better picture of what Christ came to do for all of us. It is our job as Christian parents, not just to teach our children what is right and what is wrong in God's eyes, but also to teach them that mixed with this abhorrance for what is wrong, there needs to be a compassion for the lost, and the weaker brothers and sisters in Christ. If I, as a mother, approach someone about what I perceive as sin, with anger, and malice, then I have just slapped the gospel in the face. Christ came to seek and to save the lost. He loved, he served, and he made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. We know that Christ was not silent when it came to pointing out sins. We need to carefully remember in front of our children, what sins he was most vocal about. It was the sin of hypocrisy. The sins of the pharisees, who took it upon themselves to point out how others were sinners, and they were perfect, because they kept the law. This is what we need to be careful of.
Our words to others, should always be gentle, kind, seasoned with salt, well chosen, and used, only when absolutely needed. The words we choose when responding to someone who has wronged us or our children, should always be equal to the words of our savior, filled with compassion and concern for their hearts, not just their actions. I think this is one of the most important lessons that we can teach our kids. If they are grounded in the word, they will know sin when they see it, but how will we model their responses to it? If they have parents that can only accuse, and never show kindness, love or compassion, then we are teaching them to be like the pharisees.
Our children,in their innocence, will always have questions for someone who they see doing wrong. I think it's ok to allow them to ask the tough questions, if they can do it in a fashion that does not insult or tear down. A very young child, will often sound offensive, because they do not yet understand how to use words of compassion, but I think others also understand, and the woords of that little one with high standards might just make them think about their actions. Children can be taught by example how to mix their "rebuke" with compassion and kindness, and when is an appropriate time to use them. Behind the scenes it is most important that we are continually having dialogue with our children, not about what pleases us, or makes us mad, but what pleases our savior, and what doesn't. We can be very vocal about what we see in the world that is wrong, and sinful, and still be vocal in our compassion for the people themselves, and our desire to show mercy and love to them. We should teach our children to hate sin, but also to love the sinner.
I have many other thoughts on this matter, but not enough to time right now to get them all verbalised. If anyone has any further thoughts on the matter, I would love to hear them. God's blessings to all the parents out there who, like myself, are plugging away, and trying to teach our children what God desires in all our lives.