Do you expect your children to care for you in your old age? Or what if you get sick before you are old? What if you get cancer while your children are teenagers? Do you expect them to care for you then? How will they learn how to care for you? Oh, I don’t mean the business of dressing wounds or helping you up and down from the bed or the toilet. I mean, how will they learn the compassion, the true Christian charity required for such care? You must begin in them a root of selflessness.
It is a not uncommon occurrence: a mother slowly shakes her head and says to the father, “I just don’t know where we went wrong.” Something her child has done provokes the lament, and the provocation can range from bed-wetting to grand theft auto. The good news is that more children are guilty of something on the bed-wetting end of the spectrum than the grand theft auto end of it, and so things may not be as bad as they appear in the moment. The bad news is that they are sometimes just as bad as they appear—or even worse—and it is just for the parents to reflect on their work.
Before you get depressed and stop reading, trust me. My goal here is not to make you feel like a terrible parent but to encourage you from the Word and from my own experience with a lot of children and parents over the years—not to mention more than a little hindsight from raising my own children. Learn from where we (and others) went wrong, and maybe there will be fewer woeful sighs ahead in your parenting.
One virtue (If only it were the only!) that is conspicuously absent among good people these days is courage. Oh, I don’t mean to say it has totally disappeared. It crops up from time-to-time, and often just in the nick of time, in some surprisingly stout-hearted person who does the right thing regardless of the repercussions, who takes a stand for everything that is good and right when others who could and should do the same stand shame-faced, head-hung in the background.
But why? Why is courage so hard to come by? One reason may be that we think about courage all wrong. Courage does not come with being tall or strong or dense; it comes with practice. Winston Churchill is credited as saying, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” Like any other virtue, then, courage is something that we must, to borrow from the Apostle Paul, “put on.” We must first decide that we wish to be courageous, and then we must practice courage.
With increasing frequency I find myself consoling acquaintances whom I find shaking their heads and muttering about the world “going to hell in a handbasket.” In many ways I sympathize with these frustrated folk—look at politics, the media, the government, our Darwinian capitalist machine. One can hardly help wringing one’s hands over the state of the country, even the state of the world. But Christians have been given some instructions about the world, instructions along the lines of taking dominion and baptizing the nations and teaching them to obey Jesus. So let’s dispense with the handwringing, shall we, and get on with the business at hand.
Struggle is among the most important elements in the learning process. Learning a new thing—whether Greek, knitting, or fly-tying—is hard work and requires some pain if it is to be done well. Think of it this way: after learning something new, one is not the same person he was before he learned the new thing; he has undergone a metamorphosis. That process of change necessarily comes with some struggle and pain.
As a father of five children, I have some experience with parenting toddlers. When my eldest son was a toddler, I recall being puzzled by behaviors he exhibited that he did not learn from my wife and me (as opposed to the behavior that he did learn from us). To the best of my knowledge, neither of us ever sat down with our toddler and said, “Son, here is the proper way to pitch a fit” or “Son, this is how you disobey mommy and daddy”. Such is the reality that leads me to consider my children’s sin and my response to it.
We are re-publishing a series from last summer about five perfect gifts for children. The idea was inspired by a charge, presented as five perfect gifts for children, and given to a mother-to-be last summer by the wives of the Trinitas Board of Governors. Their five perfect gifts line up well with many of the points Christian psychologist Keith McCurdy makes about raising “sturdy children” in this age of victim culture. We’ve spent the last few weeks attempting to make those connections for our readers between the five perfect gifts and McCurdy’s pointers for raising sturdy children. This last installment is the “gift of hate.”
In this post-postmodern age in which we live, truth has become so relative that actual truth, real truth, true truth is hardly recognizable. Relative truth is a truth that is true for me but may not be true for you, or one that is true for me relative to the situation I am in—it may not even be true for me in a different situation. Relative truth is so dependent upon individual feelings, place, and time that we have to differentiate it from the actual objective truth somehow, as I did above by using the term true truth. This is bonkers, and it screams for a lecture on the importance of language, but that can be saved for another day. Just remember that whoever defines the terms controls the conversation.
We are re-publishing a series from last summer about five perfect gifts for children. The idea was inspired by a charge, presented as five perfect gifts for children, and given to a mother-to-be last summer by the wives of the Trinitas Board of Governors. Their five perfect gifts line up well with many of the points Christian psychologist Keith McCurdy makes about raising “sturdy children” in this age of victim culture. We’ll spend the next five weeks attempting to make those connections for our readers between the five perfect gifts and McCurdy’s pointers for raising sturdy children. This week’s selection is the “gift of sin.”
One of the great purposes of this life is our sanctification, that process whereby we—with the help of the Holy Spirit—become more like Christ over the course of our lifetime. We are eternal beings, bound for glory, and this life offers us lots of opportunities to prepare. Becoming like Christ consists in part, as the Apostle Paul says, of putting off the old man (Col 3:9) and putting off our sins (Col 3:8). I don’t know about you, but I seem to have a lot of sin to put off, and I couldn’t even start the project of putting it off until I knew what sin was and what God thought about my sin. I should have started a lot earlier in life than I did! Talk about wasted youth, sheesh.