What will this Christlike change in parenting actually look like? And how will the change wrought in me be the start of change in my family? Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents find the joy and hope and success of parenting like Christ.
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Listen to the following episodes on Apple Podcasts by clicking the titles.
“The Four Family Loves” series (stars in episode 128)
“One Flesh, One Team” (episode 86)
“Your Family Needs to Go to Church” series (starts in episode 175)
“Peaceful Parenting” series (starts in episode 69)
“Your Parenting is Not in Vain” (episode 224)
“Rock, Bread, and Donut” series (episode 106)
“Emotions and Parenting” series (starts in episode 32)
“When to Raise Your Voice: is yelling ever appropriate?” (episode 38)
“Is It Okay to Get Mad?” (episode 153)
“Parenting Like Jonah” (episode 197)
“Isaiah 11 Parent” series (starts in episode 272)
“The Chief of Sinners in Your Home” (episode 215)
"Why Is It Always About Me?” (episode 2)
“The Most Potentially Destructive Influence in the Life of Your Child” (episode 42)
“What Is Successful Parenting?” (episode 87)
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Today we’re going to talk about what this change that starts with you looks like and then discuss how your change can influence your family.
But before we do that, I want to thank Cara for making today’s episode possible. She has been such an encouragement to me over the years. Her heart for the Lord, her desire to serve, and her willingness to invest in others has made it easier for us to continue producing these episodes from week to week.
But I also have to thank Willza U for leaving this review on iTunes: “I have just recently found this podcast and am learning so much about how to apply biblical teaching to my parenting. With four children, I do not have time to read books, but having short podcasts at my fingertips has been so helpful. Thank you for using this format to help busy Christian parents!”
Thank you, Cara and Willza! You guys are great, and your support is an encouragement to everyone who listens.
And, since we’re a listener-supported podcast, If you’d be interested in seeing how you can be an encouragement to everyone, you can click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode.
Thank you for joining us today and for everything you’ll do to spread the news about Truth.Love.Parent. and help us connect with more families.
And, if this happens to be your first episode with us, I want to invite you to do two things. First, you should probably start with episode 276 which was the first in this series. Or second, you could go back to our very first episodes and join us for this parenting journey from the very beginning.
Our content is evergreen, and since it builds on itself from season to season, I think you’ll enjoy the process of working through the material from the beginning.
But if you’re returning for the final episode in this series . . . here we go.
Ephesians 4 is the chapter that formally starts Paul’s application section of his letter. Chapters 1-3 dealt with the amazing Truth of grace and salvation, and chapters 4 through 6 show us how those Truths are to be lived out in our daily life and relationships. But Chapter 4 in particular really focuses on the individuals and their responsibility to be changed into the image of Christ.
So, on our first episode we talked about The Goal of Christlikeness, its urgency and community applications. Last time we discussed how on earth we humans were going to hope to accomplish that goal, and we saw that God is The Source of that endeavor.
Today, we’re going to investigate The Fruit of personal change and how it affects our families.
Also, at the end of today’s transcript at Taking Back the Family, I’m going to include the whole of chapter 4 with the highlights I added that separate the passage into The Goal, The Source, and The Fruit.
First, let me once again apologize that we’re going to work through this information very quickly. We have at least 18 different specific fruits Paul is going to mention in this passage. And you may sit there wishing we could spend an entire episode or more on just one of these attributes. And I would love to do the same, and perhaps we will in the future.
However, this series is more about us understanding how important it is that change starts with us . . . not so much studying out the implication of every possible kind of change.
So, there are three distinct lists Paul gives us.
1. The First List of Fruit
The first is found in verse 2. Let me read verses 1 and 2: “1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,”
And what is that call? Christlikeness. And what does that look like, “2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
So, we see seven character traits of a Christ-honoring parent engaged in personal change.
Now, like I said, it would be amazing to have an individual episode to really talk about what it means to be a Humble Parent and a Gentle Parent and Patient Parent. And, Lord willing, we will be able to tackle those concepts in the future.
But, for now, I am happy to say that we have a whole series on what it specifically means to be a loving parent. You can check out “The Four Family Loves” series to learn about that.
For the idea of a Unified Parent, we have a number of episodes that explore that concept. Episode 86 deals with “One Flesh, One Team.” Our “Your Family Needs to Go to Church” series explores many of the important factors involved in being unified with the body of Christ. And, let’s be honest, nearly every one of our episodes is fundamentally geared toward helping you and your family be more unified.
And then we have an entire, really beautiful series called “Peaceful Parenting.” If you haven’t heard that, you really need to. It’s a gorgeous nine-part study in Philippians 4.
And lastly, I think it’s safe to say that every episode we’ve ever created is all about how we can be Ministering Parents. So if you’ve never gone back and just started listening from the beginning, I always encourage people that that’s the best way to approach this podcast.
So, there you go. Those are some very helpful shows that can build on the Truth we’re flying through today.
But before we move on to our second list of Fruits, we need to grapple with these for a minute.
Are you a humble parent? Are you growing in your gentleness? How’s your patience? What about your biblical love? Are you unified with your spouse and your kids and your local body of believers and the Lord like you should be? Would your kids call you a peaceful parent? What about a ministering parent?
I’m not suggesting that a mature parent will be perfect in these areas, but God is saying through the pen of Paul and the lips of Aaron Brewster that a changing parent will be growing in these areas from year to year.
And I can also add that since we never accidentally glorify God, we should be intentionally and premeditatedly pursuing growth in these areas. How can we expect our kids to grow in these areas if we’re not pursuing them ourselves?
Okay, so Paul gives us that first list of seven character traits a changing parent should be embracing, but then his next list has only two two things we should avoid. Let’s read verses 14 and 17-19: “14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”
2. The Second List of Fruit
In this second list, Paul tells us not to be like children or unbelievers. And then he offers two sublists in order to explain what he means.
1. When he says not to be like children, he describes them as being double-minded, undiscerning, and deceived.
This reminds me an awful lot of James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
How many parents have you met that act like children? They’re capricious, seem to have no common sense, and buy into the clear lies of sin. That’s the type of parent Paul is commanding us not to be.
But 2. Paul also says that a changing parent is not going to live like unbelievers. And he describes them as being futile, blind, separated, ignorant, hard, callous, sensual, greedy, and impure.
We’ve talked a lot about some of those individuals character traits on this show, but the one that sticks out the most to me is the word “futile.” We started the year talking about how “Your Parenting is Not in Vain.” And that one sticks out to me because the only way we can hope for real purpose and success in our parenting is to do the work of the Lord. Unbelievers don’t do the work of the Lord, they serve self. That’s why their lives are futile.
So, Paul gives us a list of seven positive things we should be, then a list of two things we shouldn’t be followed by a more specific list of twelve things we must avoid.
So, how about you? Could your kids describe you as being double-minded, undiscerning, or deceived? Could our spouses stand in a court of law and present evidence that we are futile, blind, separated, ignorant, hard, callous, sensual, greedy, or impure?
May it never be so for the Christian intentionally engaged in personal spiritual change.
And then the third list of Fruit is going to present about seven more character traits of mature, changing parents and contrasts them with the Fruit of sinful parents.
3. The Third List of Fruit
The first contrast is given to us in verse 25: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
1. A changing parent is a Truthful parent as opposed to a lying parent.
It’s sad to say that parents lie to their kids all the time. Yes, some deliberately set out to deceive their kids, and that’s so wrong, but many other parents speak untruths to their kids because they, the parents, were the first to believe the lie.
We deal with this in some detail in our “Rock, Bread, and Donut” series. This happens because we don’t know God’s Truth and are left handing our kids the only other thing we have . . . our own version of truth.
This underscores the importance of knowing the Bible. Let’s review TLP’s theme verse right from this passage: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
2. A changing parent is a Righteously Angry parent as opposed to sinfully angry parent.
Verse 26 is a very familiar one: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” And then there’s verse 31: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
We deal a lot with anger on this show too. I’ll link a number of episodes in the description of this episode if you’re interested in learning how the two are different. One of them also talks about whether it’s ever appropriate for a parent to raise his or her voice.
Would you kids attach the word “righteous” to your anger? How about your spouse?
3. A changing parent is a Hard-working parent as opposed to stealing parent.
Verse 28 reads, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
We steal from our kids, dads, when we come home from work and immediately retreat into our rooms, dens, garages, gardens, and man caves and leave them behind.
We steal from our kids, moms, when we cut corners in our parenting because “I just can’t take it any more.”
And this leads us to another concept in the same verse.
4. A changing parent is a Giving parent as opposed to taking parent.
The purpose of the thief learning to work is so that he will be able to do the opposite of stealing . . . he’ll be able to give and to give that which is most valuable to those who are in the most need.
The “Rock, Bread, and Donut” series deals with this concept in some detail as well because it explores why we give our kids what we give them.
Would your children say that you are hard-working? And I’m not talking about in your job or the things you love. Are you hard-working in your parenting? Do you give your best to your kids? Do you work to serve?
And then . . .
5. A changing parent is an Edifying parent as opposed to corrupting parent.
Verse 29 tells us: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Now, we are running out of time, and I appreciate your patience, but I need to land on this one for a little.
First, the obvious truth here is that we need to edify those in our family. We need to build them up and not tear them down. But . . . we also need to divorce these ideas from our current cultural understanding.
The Greek word rendered “building up” is a construction term and can be defined figuratively as “the act of one who promotes another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness.”
And the idea of showing “grace” is often rightly defined as “giving someone something they don’t deserve.”
However, the world and our sinful hearts would have us believe that speech that is gracious and builds us up is whatever speech we want to hear. If you want to affirm my sexuality or my lifestyle choices, then I accept that as edifying. But if you want to tell me that I’m wrong or sinning or doing something bad, well, now you’re tearing me down!
My friends. The world doesn’t understand that the truth often does hurt. Now, yes, we are to share the truth in love, but that’s not specifically referring to our tone of voice or word choice so much as it is the motivation that I’m saying what I’m saying because I believe it is the single most important thing for you and your relationship with God.
And no, those things cannot be said in a mean way. To say them in a mean way would mean that I’m not speaking them in love because I’m being mean. But that doesn’t mean that a rebuke or correction or reproof or counsel or admonishment or even — as Proverbs 27:6 says — the wounds of friend can’t be loving.
You see, Paul contrasts building up and gracious speech with corrupting speech. The word translated “corrupting” refers to something that is rotten or worthless. That refers to the “kisses of an enemy” just as much as they refer to unkind words.
The motivation really is key. And yes, we need to do our best to make sure our motivation is best communicated, but we have to understand that Paul is not commanding us to only speak syrupy words of affirmation with only the sweetest tones and to never speak hard words of condemnation. Words of loving, biblical condemnation will build someone up in Christ far more than empty words of frivolous affirmation.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. Affirmation has its place. I’m not arguing against tender, compassionate language that only speaks positively about a person. That’s super important. But this culture doesn’t need to be reminded to do that. This generation of Christian parents needs to be reminded to say the hard things in a loving way, to speak the Truth in love that won’t always necessarily make the individual feel all mushy-gushy, but will build them up in their spiritual growth.
So, does your parenting build your kids up in Christ or simply add to the pointless noise in their lives?
Okay, let’s move on. Hopefully, I communicated myself clearly and lovingly. I really do want what’s best for our families. We need to understand what Gd means when He speaks.
And this next point will help us with that . . .
6. A changing parent is a Filled with the Spirit parent as opposed to grieving the Spirit parent.
Verse 30 warns us not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
We grieve the Spirit when we sin, plain and simple. And we talked a lot about what it means to be filled by the Spirit in our “Isaiah 11 Parent” series.
Is your parenting filled with the Spirit of God, or is it controlled by your own sinful desires that grieves God?
Wow. I know this is a huge list, and we’ve probably forgotten the other six things on this third list let alone the first and second lists.
Never fear, we have free episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com on our blog. I’ll link that in the description and make sure they are nice and robust for you. And we also have a free transcript available so you can review this any time at your own pace.
And finally . . .
7. A changing parent is a kind, tenderhearted, forgiving as Christ parent as opposed to bitter, wrathful, sinfully angry, clamorous, slanderous, and malicious parent.
Verses 31-32 are very familiar, and verse 32 is probably in our parenting Bible, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
I’ve known far too many bitter parents. And I believe bitterness is at the root of wrath and sinful anger, clamor, slander, and malice.
We become so selfishly focused on how that person hurt or inconvenienced me that it’s all we can focus on . . . but the bitter person rarely realizes they’ve fixated. It takes a loving friend to point that out.
Is your parenting bitter? Have your kids hurt you so much that it consumes you? Is it easy for you to blame them for everything because you’ve already convinced yourself everything they do is wrong?
My friends, change starts with us, and we need to be personally bearing these twenty or so fruits as we’re being conformed into the image of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
But here’s our final question for the day — stick with me — How does our change affect our families?
Well, we actually saw the answer to that in the very first episode, I just didn’t want to really make a big deal about it then.
Do you remember when we said that the call to work toward the Goal was urgent and that the consummation of the Goal was Christlikeness and that the consequence of the Goal was helping others with the Goal?
Let’s revisit that for a second.
Ephesians 4:4-5 and 12-16 . . . pay careful attention . . . “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all . . . 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
If everyone in my house is unsaved and grieving God, can the Lord save my youngest child and mature her in His grace even though the rest of us reject Him. Of course! Praise God that He does this all the time!
But, is it easier for a child to teach and reprove and counsel and train his parents or for a parent to teach and reprove and counsel and train his kids?
Yeah, we know the answer. Deuteronomy 6 puts the onus on the parents to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord by constantly putting His Truth into their day.
If we are growing in Christ, and Ephesians 4 is being lived out in us, that sets us up for Ephesians 5-6.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’. . . that it may go well with you . . . .’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
God wants us parents to be the catalyst for change in our families. He expects change to start with us, not our kids.
And, boy oh, boy, do we need change. Let me share with you a few more episodes, and I’ll be done.
First, in episode 215 we discuss “The Chief of Sinners in Your Home.” And it’s because of the chief of sinners that I started this whole podcast with the episode "Why Is It Always About Me?” and ended Season 1 with an episode called “The Most Potentially Destructive Influence in the Life of Your Child.”
We must be daily conforming to the image of Christ.
But we also have to understand what truly successful parenting is. The episode “Your Parenting is Not in Vain” references another called “What Is Successful Parenting?” You really should listen to that if you haven’t yet. It is so encouraging. It’s the only way I can parent with joy. It’s why I can work at Victory Academy with joy.
Now I know I’ve shared a lot of episodes with you today. Here’s why, Truth.Love.Parent. is Bible-based masterclass in parenting. I share these episodes so you can take your study of these concepts to the next level.
This podcast is not about catching the newest episode so you don’t miss out on some current event or parenting fad. It’s about carefully working through the Scriptures to discover the kind of parents God called and created us to be.
So, be intentional. Be premeditated. Study this series carefully, download the notes, listen to the cited episodes, and share this series with your friends so they can be the start of change in their homes.
I really pray this series has been a huge blessing. If it has, please let us know by sending an email to TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com or write something at Facebook.
On our next episode I’m super excited to announce that we’re going to have two Special Guests who want to share with us their personal testimony of how their family change started with them.
I’m so excited about sharing that episode with you! Lord willing their personal experience with these truths will encourage all of us and have us praising God for the amazing blessing that it is to be His child and parent our children.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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