Today AMBrewster looks at yet another way Christian parents can have peace in their parenting.
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Welcome back to our series on how to have vibrant, contagious peace in your parenting.
I’m your host, AMBrewster, and I’m also the Lead Counselor at Victory Academy for Boys, a boarding home for at risk teens.
I mention this so that you can imagine a slice of what my parenting looks like. And I say “parenting” on purpose. Every year up to eight families entrust me to parent their sons for ten months. In many ways, I’m pretty much a “professional parent.”
But don’t forget that none of these boys want to be here. They’re coming to my home because their parents have no influence in their lives.
You can imagine it’s not a very peaceful experience. And, to be honest, I struggle multiple times throughout the year holding on to that peace. I often have eight guys who at various times are working against everything I’m trying to do. But God is good, and when I trust and obey Him, I experience a level of soul rest I cannot completely explain. But I only experience that — and you will only experience that — when we live the way God’s commanded.
One more reminder before we get started, we’re going to look at a lot of Scripture today. I love doing that; and you can find all the verses I’m going to use today on our Episode Notes at TruthLoveParent.com.
Okay, last time we saw that the first Peace Prerequisite is to have joy that’s founded in nothing but God. I encourage you to listen to that episode if you haven’t heard it yet.
Joy in God — in itself — is a struggle because we’re just so selfish.
But we must always start there. It’s the real-life application of the first command to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength.
And just like the second greatest command to love our neighbors as ourselves grows from the first, the second Peace Prerequisite also grows from the first.
Let me read the verse from the KJV: Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Unfortunately, this verse has been misunderstood by many Christians throughout the years. I grew up using the King James Version; I love the language and the feel of the text, but in Philippians 4:5 we encounter the word “moderation.” And I think many modern readers have been confused by that. How does one make his moderation known to all men?
Do I wear a shirt that says, “I only eat chocolate on Thursdays”?
Do I vote for the Green Party?
Well, the ESV’s translation doesn’t help too much. The ESV renders the word as “reasonableness.” But I really like the way the New American Standard Bible translates this verse: “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near."
The Greek word in question is used five times in the New Testament, but this is the only time it’s used as a noun. The NASB translates the adjectival forms as “gentle” and adds the word “spirit” to the noun in Philippians for clarification.
Here are a couple Brewster renderings of this verse: “Be gracious to all men. The Lord is near.” and another may be, “Be fair to all men. The Lord is near.”
This little verse with this simple word is so incredibly packed with power — the implications of which can revolutionize our parenting if we take it seriously.
But since this Greek word is only used five times, it may be helpful to check out the other places it’s used in order to better understand the word.
Wow. We could camp out here for weeks. Instead, let’s quickly sketch out the kind of person who let’s his gentle spirit be known to all men. But before we do so, we must remember that when we encounter lists like these in the Bible – I like to call them Sanctification Lists – they are not trail-mix passages where you pick out what you like and leave the rest.
Every item on these lists is a necessity in a Spirit-filled life.
So, what does a Gentle Parent look like?
Parents who’re gentle are going to be the following things to their family:
And gentle parents will not be . . .
Can you picture in your sanctified imagination the type of parent who can be categorized as “gentle”?
Really think about this for a moment.
For a longer moment.
How do you think most children would approach this type of parent? How might he be treated? What types of relationships would she have? What kind of mom would she be? Who would possibly dislike her? Who would argue with him?
Are we getting this?
The conversations and actions of a gentle parent are vibrantly and dynamically beautiful. Because this parent makes God their greatest joy, they deliberately choose to make His precepts the foundation of their every word and deed. Because of the relationship they have with God they choose to have right relationships with everyone God brings into their life.
I find myself drawn back to Matthew 22:37-40, “[Jesus] said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
This is why the title of today’s episode is “Parents Who Reflect.” When Moses was overcome by the awesomeness of God, his face shown to all the children of Israel.
It’s our joy in God that will reflect outward to our families.
And I find it hard to believe that this type of parent wouldn’t constantly be at peace. Not only would it be difficult for their children to hate them, but when one of their kids decides to act like a terrorist, the parent’s response would provide a spiritual barrier between them and the effect of the hatred. Peace would reign.
But it’s important to acknowledge that we’re not simply left with a command to be gentle. Paul adds the second concept of divine imminence.
Beyond the intentionally sanctified life-choices the word gentle implies, we need to make sense of the last part of the verse — “The Lord is at hand.”
Last time we saw our responsibility to God, but even our responsibility toward man is rooted in our responsibility to God.
There are two important concepts involved in Christ’s imminence.
Because we don’t know when Jesus will be back to claim His own, and because the Spirit indwells us with His presence and power, we are repeatedly admonished to be faithfully working for the glory of God in this world so that when He returns He may bestow on us rewards for our love and loyalty.
Now, Before we finish today’s study on peace, please take note again of the second divine generality used in this passage. Just as we were admonished to rejoice in God all of the time, so we are commanded to be gentle with all men. This includes not only our loving spouses and obedient children, but also our selfish spouses and hateful kids.
Let us look again at the words of our Lord Jesus Christ from Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We have no right to withhold our gentle spirit from anybody. No excuse on the planet is strong enough to undo this all-binding decree of God.
Do your children hate you? Love them.
Do your children ignore you? Treat them beautifully.
Do your children aggravate and annoy you? Be gentle toward them.
Did your children stab you in the back? Forgive and be peaceable.
As staggering as the requirement to be gentle to all men seems, we must believe that it is accessible through the power of God in our lives. Because if it’s not doable, then two things become true:
But the Christian knows both of those statements are lies because at the end of our Philippians 4 passage is the famous assertion that we “can do all things through Christ which strengthens us.”
In addition, the very beginning of II Peter informs us that the Holy Spirit Who indwells us “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.”
WHAT AN AMAZING PROMISE!
Remember, peace is only attainable when we find our deepest sense of fulfillment in God and His plan for our lives.
Peace is only attainable when we allow the plan of God to be worked out through our lives and allow our joy in Him to be reflected to our families.
If we do not do this, we will not have the unimaginable soul rest that God has promised us in our parenting.
Let give you a glimpse into how I try to live out my gentle spirit in my parenting:
I look forward to studying the third Peace Prerequisite on our next episode and encourage you to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss the whole series.
I don’t know about you, but these discussions are really exciting me because I’m being reminded how amazing life can be when just do things God’s way.
See you next time.
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