Sunday, October 21, 2012

Raising Children - To Be Good, Or To Love?

I woke up this morning with this thought in my head.

We fail to disciple our children in the Way of Christ when we teach them to be good rather than to love sacrificially.

Sometimes, I think we, as Christian parents, can be fooled into thinking that these two things are the same.  Or that if we teach our kids to be good, they will automatically be loving.  This just isn't true.  Our natural inclination to fall into pride is too strong.  Being good means knowing the rules and following them.  Loving sacrificially means loving others the way Jesus did.  Being good depends on rewards and punishments.  Loving sacrificially depends on the Holy Spirit's guidance and discipline.  Being good means we feel "right" when we have done what is expected of us.  Loving sacrificially means that we feel right when we know that our actions have been motivated by love and only love. 

Being good can lead to pride or shame because it is too easy to judge our own goodness against the goodness of others.  If we are better than "they" are, we feel pride.  If we are worse, we feel shame.  We play intricate inner games with ourselves in an effort to feel better than others, by doing things like comparing our strengths with another's weaknesses or labelling some sins as worse than others (usually sins that we don't struggle with).  This is how someone who gossips maliciously can be judgmental against someone who drinks alcoholically.

Loving sacrificially kills pride and shame, because our Standard is Jesus, and no one can match Him.  His passionate, sacrificial love for us creates a safe place to confess that we cannot love others as He does.  There is no comparing ourselves to others. We all need His help.  We need Him to pour His love through us out onto the world.  No one can do it alone. So there is no room for pride, and shame is banished in the Light of Jesus' love.  So when we see others struggling with sin, we feel compassion and a longing to help, not judge.  There is no reason to judge, no motivation.  In fact, if we do slip into judgment, we feel the prompting, the displeasure of the Holy Spirit immediately. Finding judgment in a heart devoted to love is like seeing a cockroach scuttling across the floor of a finely decorated kitchen.  Everything within us jumps up yelping, and there is no rest until the judgment is caught, confessed, repented and disposed of. 

How does this relate to how we raise our children?

More later.

Peace out.

No comments:

My Zimbio