May 27, 2011

‘Raising The Fruitful Child’: Complementarity and Family

My 'guest blogger' today is my friend Wendy Lin. Wendy has kindly contributed this very helpful piece as part of my on-going series - 'Complementarity and Family'. Thank you Wendy!

When I think about which parts of Scripture have greatly impacted our family relationships, there are many parts I could choose from – great promises of God for salvation, the assurance that grace alone by the blood of Christ has saved us, how God’s love has changed us, and many more.

However, when Sarie asked me to write this piece, the one verse that kept coming to mind was Galatians 5:22-23a:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” 

-Matthew, Zoe & Amy Lin-
I have always loved this verse, since my early days in the faith – it seemed to cover all aspects of the Christian life. It was a goal to aim for, even if I knew I failed. Now, as a parent, I find these descriptions now on my tongue, more than they ever were before.

Since the children were born, my regular prayer point – both for my own personal prayer, and for anyone who prays for me – was that I would be more a patient, kind and gentle mother. This is from someone, who at one point, would have thought she really was a rather patient, kind and gentle person! Boy, did having children ever cure me of that delusion!

I find parts of this verse ringing in my ears regularly. That is for many reasons:

-    even at the moment, Geoff, my husband, is preaching through the fruit of the spirit, and I have enjoyed listening to his sermons, and being challenged about my own ‘fruitiness.’

-    we listen to a lot of kids’ Christian music in the car – Colin Buchanan has this verse as a memory verse on ‘Boom Chicka Boom’ and he has other songs about self-control, etc. Also, the ‘Sovereign Grace Kids CD .To Be Like Jesus, focuses on the fruit of the spirit. 

I suspect sometimes the message is more for me, than them!

I now purposefully use the ‘fruit of the spirit words to encourage my children in godliness:

o      ‘It’s lovely to see you being kind to your sister’

o      ‘I know he was annoying you, well done at being self-controlled and not fighting back.’

We try to use these terms to challenge their expectations of the world around them. My girls love to think they are pretty. They put on a new dress - ‘I look pretty’. I do their hair a special way and they say ‘now, I look beautiful’. While we affirm that yes, they are beautiful, what I find myself saying again and again is “You are beautiful, and you are beautiful because you have a kind heart.”

When my son struggles to tame his anger, we can talk about self-control. We talk about how it’s OK to feel angry and upset, but we still have to be self-controlled about how we express it.

As I’ve thought about it though, it’s easy to focus on some fruits of the spirit rather than others and some fit more easily into conversation – kindness, gentleness, patience and self-control, for example. We use them to define expectations of behaviour in our kids.

However, what about peace? Joy? Faithfulness? Goodness? How to teach these to our kids?

The same way we teach everything, we model it ourselves. As we continue to try to live our lives in a ‘manner worthy of the gospel’ (Phil 1:27) it can be our hope and prayer that our children will see and learn from us. We can talk about being thankful for the things around us – that Daddy is paid to talk to people about Jesus, that we have a house to live in and food to eat.  Does that correspond to joy?  I hope it will, and that our attitude of expressing thankfulness is a joyful one.

If I were to think about each of the fruits of the spirit and how I want to model them to my children, perhaps they might be these:

-       Love – that they always know & believe that they are loved. By God and by Geoff and I. To tell them often that we love them and that God loves them.

-       Joy – for them to know that we have joy in the promises of God, whatever our circumstances. That we speak more of being joyful. That we are thankful for the many blessings of God and we talk about it.

-       Peace – that loving others is more important than winning the fight, or standing up for our own rights.

-       Patience – that we are patient with them, and we listen.

-       Kindness – that we speak kindly, not quick to raise our voices, but calmly. To each other, to the children and to others.

-       Goodness – that we always try to point out the good in a situation, and that we look for the good in others. 

-       Faithfulness – that we have an ongoing committed faithfulness to following Jesus and God’s word, and giving it priority over everything else.  But that we are also committed to keeping the promises we make - to everyone.  If they see us always keeping our word and valuing honestly – I think an understanding of faithfulness grows along with that.

-       Gentleness – in some ways this seems like a mix of patience and kindness, perhaps it adds an element of touch?  That we touch the children gently – give them cuddles and hugs and we speak gently, rather than harshly.

-       Self-control – this can cover everything – self-control in our speech, our actions, our attitude, the way we manage our lives.

By no means am I saying we do all this! This is more like my own ‘wish list’. There is nothing like caring for children to point out your own sinfulness, your pride and your selfishness. At the same time, caring for them has instilled such a desire to teach them of God and to live a life that is worthy of the gospel. By God’s grace, as we continue to try to live godly lives, it’s our prayer that our children are also learning to do the same. 

-Wendy & Geoff-

1 comment:

Narelle Jarrett said...

Wendy thanks for your article - a lovely insight into the christian growth of parents and children by believing and acting on God's Word. So encouraging ANJ

Post a Comment