October 22, 2013

The Perfect Plan

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 Some years ago when I was pastoring and my sons Jonathan and David were 11 and 9, we had some missionaries stay in our home for several days.  After a reminder in how they should behave, they were perfect angels the entire time the missionaries were there (this may have qualified as a miracle)!

However, minutes after our guests left, the boys got into a huge wrestling fight. Separating them I said, “What happened?!  You’ve both been so good!”  David said, "We can be good only so long."  I replied, "But I named you Jonathan and David so you'd be best of friends." To which David replied, “You should have named us Cain and Abel!”

I felt a mixture of joy and sorrow at that point:  sorrow that they seemed to be enemies rather than friends, yet joy that David obviously had been listening to the Bible stories!

So we all agree there is no perfect family – in fact, most families experience the Family Crazy Cycle on a daily basis.

But there is a plan to parent God’s way and this plan is the most perfect plan there is.  Does that mean if we follow the plan, we’ll have a perfect family?  No.  Obviously we are all flawed – so perfection is not possible here on earth.  But it is possible to succeed at parenting in God’s eyes if we follow His plan regardless. 

Malachi 4:6 says:  "Elijah will teach parents how to love their children. He will also teach children how to honor their parents. If that does not happen, I will come. And I will put a curse on the land” (NIRV).

Wow.  That’s pretty heavy.  What else does the Bible say about parenting?

God calls children to honor (respect) their parents in Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, and Ephesians 6:2.

And though God puts agape-love in the heart of a parent, children do not always feel that unconditional love. Parents readily admit, “I love my child but I do not like my child.” This is why the older women are to encourage the young mothers to phileo-love their children in Titus 2:4. This Greek word is the root of our English word Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. In other words, mothers in the home are to be friendlier.  Though moms love their kids unconditionally, they can appear negative and irritated in the home.

 As for fathers, though they possess compassion for their children according to Psalm 103:13, kids do not always feel that love as dads provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6:4) and exasperate them so that they lose heart (Colossians 3:21).

The parent-child relationship is as easy, and as difficult, as love and respect.

The good news is that when children feel loved they are motivated to respond positively to parents. And when parents feel respected they are energized to be lovingly affectionate with their kids.  When these needs are met, good things happen in the family.

That’s the perfect plan.  But of course, living this out is much more difficult on a day to day basis.  Ironically, parents who are supposed to be more emotionally mature than their children are often guilty of being just the opposite.  And children do not always respond to our love in the way we expect. 

But parenting is for adults only.  And as adults, the responsibility is on us to act like it. Can we parent God’s way even if our children disregard us, disobey us, and disrespect us?

We’ll delve into this more next time.  Until then, will you begin today to search the Scriptures for God’s blue print for parents?  I believe you’ll be encouraged.


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