Be completely humble
and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
Lisa posted this comment last week. Her concern is an important
one. I am confident that many can identify with this comment.
How does one balance caring deeply about God’s reputation through
trying to raise godly children who glorify Him and still loving those who
profess Christ yet bring shame to Him with the worldly, disrespectful, defiant
heart issues they allow in their children? We feel called to homeschool our two
daughters and shelter them from worldly and evil influences. Yet even among
Christian homeschoolers, I am alone in my worldview. I do not say this with
pride: I am truly discouraged and lonely in my quest to keep the hearts of my
children focused toward God and His glory. It makes me question what I’m doing!
These parents know all the right things to say and have read "all the
books." They can quote Scripture perfectly and articulate the most
Spirit-filled prayers. Yet, their children and homelife indicate that a true
spiritual battle is going on, and Satan is having a heyday. And the parents
themselves are willfully recalcitrant and delusional in accepting the
responsibility that comes with this high calling. In fact, they get combative
over this issue. Is it wrong to choose not to associate with families whose
children can have such a profound negative influence on your children? How far
do you take this? Must I quit a beloved Bible study I have been a part of for
years because one new family is bringing all this into the mix? "Bad
company corrupts good character," but how do we balance this with
"clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility…" Help!
Lisa, here is a three pronged response to the issue you have
raised. Christians who are serious about the implications of their faith will
inevitably face the sort of struggles you mention. Fortunately, the Scripture
has anticipated these problems. Ephesians 4:2 provides one course of action.
Paul says, Be completely humble and
gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. So the three prongs
for you to consider are:
Gentle humility is
maintained by gratitude. If you have arrived at a truly biblical perspective on
training children, it is important to see that you have been blessed by the
mercies of God. By God’s grace alone, the attractiveness and wisdom of
addressing the heart is clear to you. We do not come to truly biblical
conclusions just because we are smarter than others. This is why humility is
the first step. If your focus is on the grace of God poured out on you, then
you can be nothing but humble and thankful. So, Lisa, you can start there. God
has made it possible for you to see things about training children that others
around you have not seen. Be thankful for God’s mercy to you. When you see
inconsistencies in the lives of those around you, have compassion for them.
Pray for them that God would extend to them the same mercies that he has
extended to you.
The second prong Paul
gives in Ephesians is patience. A working definition of patience is “living
in the expectation of God’s care.” Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit.
Rather than our usual notion of passive endurance, patience is living with an eager
anticipation that the Lord of all Creation will care for you as he has
promised. Perhaps God is giving you an opportunity to show the benefits of
heart-oriented training to folks who would not otherwise have been exposed to
them. Changes in mindset, particularly ones concerning training children, often
come slowly. Be patient as you pray for God to bless your efforts, and remember
that God has placed you with these folks. As you encourage your own children to
honor God, you are adding to his reputation.
I don’t think you necessarily have to leave your Bible study
group, based on the reasons you mentioned. Leaving the group could be necessary
eventually, but I would encourage you to do battle first—spiritual battle,
God’s way. Part of training your children is to prepare them to deal with the
negative influences they will face. Learning to deal positively with other
Christians is an important part of that training. As an adult, you have an
obligation to respond in a godly way to difficult people, even within the
church. In the same way, your children have to learn to respond in a godly way
to ungodly behavior. Even among
Christians (who ought to know better), we have plenty of opportunities to do
this, and you have the opportunity to be right there beside your children,
showing them God’s way.
It may be helpful to compare your home to a greenhouse. If you don’t provide enough protection your
children will be easy prey for those outside. If you shelter them too much they
will not be prepared for the world outside your home. Maintaining this balance
requires patience, wisdom and trust in God.
The last prong is
bearing with one another in love. Showing biblical love to others in
difficult circumstances does bring honor to God. John 13:34-35. Your model here,
of course, is Christ, who loved you when you were unlovely. I Corinthians
13:4-7 offers practical guidelines of how to bear with one another in love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it
is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with
the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
You can make direct application from this passage to many of
the struggles you mention in your comment. As you are gracious, humble, patient
and loving, the differences in your children will become evident. Those in your
circles who long for God and his ways will eventually see this. By your
attitude and loving forbearance you will bring honor to God. You will also
offer an alternative method of child training to those with whom you come in
contact. These are requests that you can expectantly offer to God in prayer. He
delights in prayer that focuses on bringing honor to his name. When he was on
earth, Jesus often met with opposition and disparaging comments. Some even
questioned his orthodoxy!! Yet he stayed on his mission to bring glory to his
So, I think this three pronged
game plan is a place for you to start in addressing your concerns. You have
much to give to those around you. Let me know if this helps. Lisa, you have
raised a vital topic. May God bless our thoughts as we consider how to bring
honor to his great name.
Perhaps others have thoughts as
well. We look forward to hearing from you!