Monday, December 17th, 2012
Self-Denial (Part 8: Children)
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.
Hebrews 12:5-6 (NKJV)
The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother... Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.
Proverbs 29:15,17 (NKJV)
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV)
When my children were young, I was not a good parent--although I loved my daughters and tried my best. But if 'No one is good except God alone' (Mark 10:18), how good could I be without Him?*
I'm a grandmother now. In observant maturity, I see that children are delightful manipulators. I also see that overjoyed and overtired parents are easily led. The word 'spoiling' is tossed around by 'accomplished' adults like a proud confession: 'I must admit I spoiled my kids...' (unspoken words) 'because I was so successful.'
Was the prodigal son in Jesus' famous parable spoiled? (See Luke 15:11-32). I doubt it, because a wiser father never existed. Perhaps his younger son was battling a spirit of selfishness. But the father's reaction to his son's selfishness is a lesson to us all: he let his son suffer hard consequences.
His father did not beg him to stay home. He did not lose his temper. He did not chase him. He did not disown him. He did not bail his son out of ensuing disaster. He allowed his son to hunger and to live in deplorable conditions--until he came to his senses. When the son came home, his father was waiting with open arms.
Surely the father grieved at his son's decision, departure, and suffering, but his love was wise and patient. He allowed him to learn the hard way.
Parents: learn from God. Do not spoil your children. It breeds selfishness. It breeds dependence on you--not God. But the Bible shows us good parents can have wayward children. In either case, do what the wise father did: Let them suffer. Let them learn. Let them fall down and reach up to God.
I know it's tough, but you love them best by copying our tough-love Father.
To Be Continued...
*When I committed to Christ at 51, I asked and believed God for two things: to improve me as a parent and to call my lovely and strong-willed adult daughters to Him--which He did in His infinite mercy and generosity. Today, they are both married mothers raising their sons in the wisdom of a magnificent Father.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Self-Denial series.