Gentleness NOT Harshness

KindnessThe Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying , Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” Colossians 3:12

Gentleness – Jesus always responded with kindness and compassion, He understood that human beings are valuable and fragile, and need to be handled with care. When we yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and show kindness to others, we are doing it to our Lord. The opposite is a selfish, unkind, insensitive, and rude spirit.

Welcome to the fifth in my series on the fruit of the spirit, June has already gone by, along with Father’s Day, graduations,  and weddings, and I was studying Gentleness, or Kindness.

One of my favorite words in the Old Testament is “lovingkindness” — it always evokes a warm feeling in my heart. It makes me think of God’s love, grace, mercy, favor, compassion, concern, blessings and tender care for His children.

The fruit of the spirit gentleness has that same implication —it means to show kindness, compassion, and forbearance toward another, especially someone who has perhaps not treated you in that manner. Most versions of the Bible other than the King James translate the Greek word chréstotés as “kindness”, I think both words work, so I will use both in this blog post.

First, we have the example of Christ’s kindness. The Lord has shown us such kindness and compassion, He chose to give His life for us to pay the ransom for our sins while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:10), so we should extend that kindness to others. I know I find it easy to be kind and gentle to people who are kind to me, if someone is harsh towards me my first reaction is to be rude and harsh back to them. But, as Christians, Jesus calls us to a higher road:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so?” Matthew 5:44, 46, 47

Wow! I stand rebuked! We are to treat others the way we want to be treated (Luke 6:31)— and, don’t we all want to be treated with gentleness? Don’t we all want people to understand that we’ve had a tough day and we just want to be handled gently?  And, the kindest thing we can do for someone is to share the Gospel with them. Jesus was moved with compassion when He looked upon lost, helpless people, and we should have that same attitude of compassion — NOT harsh judgementalism. Aren’t you glad someone shared the Gospel with you when you were still an enemy of God?

Second, we are to be genuine — people can spot a fake! We should be genuinely gentle, and willing to go the extra mile. Kindness will cost you something, it will take some self-sacrifice. But, because of the kindness Jesus showed to us when we were foolish enemies of God, we should gratefully make the effort to pass on that kindness to others, so He is glorified.

For we ourselves also were sometimes [once] foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared…according to his mercy he saved us…through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Titus 3:3-6

Oh how much better this world would be if we would all just show genuine gentleness to one another!  Glen Campbell sang a song back in 1970 called “Try a Little Kindness”, there was a lot of truth to that song:

“You got to try a little kindness, Yes show a little kindness, Just shine your light for everyone to see…”

Now, I don’t know what he meant by it specifically, but when we show kindness to others, it is a shining light for Jesus, as He told us in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Finally, we’re commanded to be kind. When Jesus was asked by a lawyer, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25-37), the answer was basically — love God and love your neighbor! Jesus then went on to share the story of the Good Samaritan:

A Samaritan man came upon a Jewish man (his “enemy”) who had been treated harshly, he had been robbed, beaten and wounded and left to die. The Samaritan (unlike a priest and Levite who had already passed by and ignored him) stopped and had compassion on the poor man, treated him with kindness, bound up his wounds, and paid whatever it cost to return him to health and life. Wow! That sounds like what Jesus did for us! And do you know what Jesus said after that?? He said, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

I recently came upon a man who had been beaten down by this harsh world, and had become so overwhelmed by the burdens he carried that he took his own life. I felt such sorrow for him! I still do! I wonder if he could have been restored to health if someone had shown him compassion and kindness?

LORD, help me to shine your gentle light on others so that You will be glorified!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Kindness dispels darkness, lifts loads, speaks peace, and inspires the downhearted.” – Phillip Keller

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Longsuffering NOT Shortsuffering

ImpatiensI therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”(Ephesians 4:1-2)   

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Longsuffering:  When we realize how patient and forgiving our loving Lord has been with us, we can extend the same to others. Patience is accepting a trial in our lives, and waiting for God to work, without giving him a deadline to remove it. The opposite is selfishness, impatience, and an unforgiving, bitter spirit.

Well, May is almost over, so here’s the fourth post in my Fruit of the Spirit series. This month, we are studying “longsuffering”, or patience.

The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “longsuffering” for what most other versions call “patience” – which is a good word, but I think “longsuffering” is more descriptive of what this fruit of the Spirit entails. Remember the nine-fold Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) is the fruit, or evidence, of the Holy Spirit’s residing in our hearts, and as we yield to the Holy Spirit our inner man becomes more like Christ and less like the sinful, fleshy, natural man of our heart. Longsuffering builds on the first three fruits – Love, Joy, and Peace – which are the “inward” fruit, the ones that affect our heart and soul, our inner being. When we are filled with God’s love, joy and peace, then He will enable us to “suffer long” (1 Corinthians 13:4) with difficult people and circumstances. Longsuffering, Gentleness, and Goodness are the three “outward” fruits, the ones that affect our attitudes and behaviors toward the people and situations around us. The Chinese Symbol for patience is this:

Chinese patience

The characters, as you can see, represent a heart with a knife in it, and together are interpreted as “going on with a knife in your heart”, or, patience! Wow! Isn’t that what patience is? Suffering yet continuing on. Afflicted with pain yet perservering. Enduring over a long period of time with overpowering circumstances.

What Patience is NOT:

Longsuffering, or patience is NOT to be confused with “shortsuffering” – we can all do that! We can all suffer for a short period of time, knowing that it will be over soon – “I’ve just got to hang on a little longer!” Patience is NOT resignation either, it’s not “Oh well, I guess that’s life, I just have to put up with it” (think Eeyore!!!); also, Patience is NOT just a personality that doesn’t get ruffled; and Patience is NOT tapping our foot while we wait for something to happen!

What Patience IS:

Patience is “accepting a trial in our lives, and waiting for God to work, without giving him a deadline to remove it.” So, patience is not only the ability to go on with a knife in your heart, patience comes as a result of having gone on with a knife in your heart (James 1:3), and through that suffering have found God to be more than enough to help you endure and see hope (Romans 5:3,4). Longsuffering means that we can continue to go on for a long, long time because we know that God is with us in this, He will strengthen us, help us, and hold us up when we need it. So that HE gets the glory!

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”(Isaiah 41:10)

WHY have Patience:

We need to be longsuffering in so many areas of our lives: as parents, and as children; as teachers, and as students; as counselors, and as counselees; as the healer, and as the hurting; as leaders, and as followers; as employers and/or managers, and as employees; I’m sure you can think of others…

Because, others are watching! When they see our patience with situations and people, they will ask us the reason for our calmness in light of such distress –and then we have the opportunity to share the REASON – the Lord Jesus Christ, Who displayed such longsufferingtoward us while we were yet sinners:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (2 Peter 3:15)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:15)

Longsuffering, or patience is something we ALL could use, I know I wish I had more, but I’m not sure that I want to go through the “trying of my faith” (James 1:2) or the “tribulations” (Romans 5:3) that bring it about! Lord – give me patience, but do it quickly!!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller

Here’s a link to another blog post I did on Patience: Be Patient

Peace Like a River

Welcome to the third post in my series on the fruit of the Spirit.Peace like a river

Peace – The ‘conscious possession of adequate resources’. Knowing that our loving God is in control, and resting in Him, helps us to worry about nothing, pray about everything and be thankful for anything. The opposite is worry, fear, and anxiety in our soul.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord…” (1 Peter 1:2)

Do you like to be by the water? I do! In the spiritual song that I referred to in my last two posts, the first stanza is “I’ve got Peace like a river…♫”. If I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the demands of life, I love to go find a river and sit on the bank and just watch the water flow gently by. It is soooo peaceful! I love how the river seems to just keep on rolling (cue the song “Ole Man River”), it doesn’t matter what “junk” falls into it, or if there are sharp rocks in the bottom, or critters living in it taking advantage of its sweet water, it just stays serene and sublime. We like to go kayaking on a river near us, and it just feels so relaxing and peaceful – all you can hear is the swish of your paddle in the water, the croaking of toads, the rustle of the breeze in the trees, the chirping of birds… I’m feeling relaxed already!

Peace is something we are all searching for, and unfortunately some people never find it. Even though rivers do make me feel peaceful, I know that I cannot find true peace apart from my God Who Created me AND the rivers. There are three areas we need to have peace: Peace with God (upward); Peace of God (inward); and Peace with others (outward). Here’s some Biblical ways to find that peace:

1. Peace with God – Our souls were created to be filled with a loving, dependent relationship with our God. Without Him, our soul is constantly seeking something to fill that void with. When we try to fill it with anything but Him, the result is anxiety, fear, and unrest in our souls. We are sinful creatures, we know that our sin deserves punishment, and if we are honest with ourselves, we feel guilty, and our hearts are not at peace. Romans 15:13 tells us where we find peace with God:

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Peace with God comes from “believing”, believing what?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:8)

Believing in the Lord Jesus and what He did for us, to pay for our sins! WOW! I’m so thankful that I can KNOW that my sins are forgiven. Because of Jesus, I have PEACE like a river in my soul!

2. Peace of God—Once we are saved, we do not instantly become perfect people with heart and soul content and at peace within ourselves. Sorry to bust your bubble! Without the peace of God, our hearts are still anxious and fearful. Salvation is the first step in the process of “sanctification” – a long word that really means to become a better person, a person who is increasingly more like Jesus Christ, who was perfect and holy. So, how do we do that? God commands us in Colossians 3:15 to let the peace of God rule in our hearts, and in verse 16 to let the Word of Christ dwell in us. Hmmm… maybe that’s a clue!! Philippians 4:6-9 gives us the answer:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true…honest… just…pure…lovely…of good report…virtue…praise, think on these things…and the God of peace shall be with you.”

The peace of God comes from intimately praying to God, with a thankful heart, trusting and turning everything over to Him –because He’s in control of it all anyway!! – and then thinking, or meditating, on God’s Word –and then obeying it! God’s Word is true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely and of good report. When we fill our minds with the truths of God’s Word instead of the lies of this world and its prince (Satan), we will find that we will want to obey His Word, and thus have the peace of God. We will know that we can trust in His goodness and His sovereignty to work all things together for good. We have no need to fear. He will take care of us as He does the sparrows.

3. Peace with Others – If we have peace with God, and the peace of God, then it shouldn’t be difficult to be at peace with others. When we get saved, the Holy Spirit indwells us, and He will give us the grace to forgive, to forbear, and to “hold our peace” when we really want to let someone have it! Romans 12:18 strongly recommends that we try to live at peace with others. It takes two people to make an argument – if another person is angry and red-faced and in-your-face, you can still be at peace within yourself and show love to them, and maybe help them to find peace. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about this, in fact, Proverbs 16:7 tells us:

When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Proverbs 15:1 tells us that “A soft answer turns away wrath”, and it is so true! Peace produces healing, it flows like a river from the presence of Christ in our hearts.

In Heaven a river flows from the throne of Christ (Revelations 22:1), a peaceful river that waters the tree of life in a place where there is no more curse, no tears, no sorrow, no pain, and no darkness – PEACE!!

There are so many other verses about peace, I would encourage you to do a word search with a concordance, or your Bible App, and see all the ways God promises us peace.

Grace and Peace unto you…

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Know God, Know Peace. No God, No Peace!

JOY Like a Fountain!

smiley faceJoy –The ‘smile of the soul’ that is unaffected by people or circumstances. It grows from the love of God flowing in and through us. Our relationship with the Lord makes us thankful for everything when we focus on Him and abide in His presence. The opposite is a selfish, ungrateful, complaining spirit.

                       “…in thy presence is fulness of joy…” Psalm 16:11

Joy like a fountainIn my last post, we talked about the spiritual song that we sang in Vacation Bible School — another stanza of it is, “I’ve got joy like a fountain”. Again, I started thinking, “why joy like a fountain?” Well, think about a fountain for a minute, it is usually very attractive, and it has water bubbling up and flowing over, or even shooting into the air. They are fueled by life-giving water! They are always fun to look at, and they get our attention – they make you happy – did you ever notice how joyful children are when they try to reach their hands into the water and play with it? Joy is like that – it bubbles up from your soul, and no matter the situation or circumstance you are in, you can have joy, real joy, the kind that comes only from the Lord and His presence in your life. This is what Habakkuk was talking about in Chapter 3:

 

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

Again, it is by God’s providence that I was meditating on the fruit of the Spirit JOY this month – Last month was February, when Valentine’s Day falls, and I studied “LOVE like an Ocean” – this month has been a crazy month, but I experienced the JOY of the Lord through it all.

On March 1st my 90-year old father-in-law fell and broke his hip. We saw this as an opportunity to start the process of getting him into Assisted Living. But, God had other plans. He did not recover well from the surgery, we brought him home on hospice, and he passed away on March 17th. Although it was an emotional time and a stressful time, by keeping our gaze toward God – it was also a joyful time.

The Lord gave us assurance beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was saved, and is now in Heaven with his Savior (JOY like a fountain!).

The Lord provided a lovely Christian caregiver for his last few days at home (JOY like a fountain!).

The Lord gave us time to visit with Greg’s brother, sister, and nephew (JOY like a fountain!).

The Lord brought all of our kids, and their respective spouses that could come, home safely in the midst of a snowstorm (JOY like a fountain!).

The Lord gave us a very special day, a private burial up near us, he was buried next to my husband’s late mother, where our children all shared special memories of Papaw (JOY like a fountain!).

The Lord gave us a wonderful time of fellowship with our children, unexpectedly having them all home for a few days (JOY like a fountain!).

The Lord coordinated so many details, I can’t even recall them all (JOY like a fountain!).

As Easter approaches, I am reminded again of what the Lord Jesus went through for me and for YOU in the last week of His life on this earth. He suffered and died to pay the price for our sins, because we could never pay it ourselves. I am SO thankful that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and so does my husband, and all my children, we have that HOPE that we will all be reunited in Heaven one day when our time on earth is over. If you don’t have that assurance, read my post GOOD NEWS! A FREE GIFT!. I am filled with JOY when I think of Jesus:

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

Here’s a little Recipe for JOY for you:

1. Get your eyes off the circumstances and onto the Lord (Psalm 61:10)

2. Live one day at a time (Psalm 118:24)

3. Count your blessings (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

4. Focus on the TRUTH that God is Sovereign and God is good (John 15:10,11)

I hope you can rejoice with me, and with the Psalmist, when we say,

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.” (Psalm 35:9)

…No matter what the circumstances and situations we find ourselves in.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

JOY is the flag that is flown from the castle of your heart when the King is in residence”

LOVE like an Ocean

HeartLove – The essential ingredient for all other graces to grow. Not a feeling, but a choice. Self-sacrificing, seeking what’s best for others, expecting nothing in return. The opposite is a selfish, hateful, envious, critical spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22,23)

(This is the first blog post in my series on the fruit of the Spirit, I plan to do one each month, with God’s help.)

At our Vacation Bible School every summer we sing a song with the kids, it is called “I’ve got Peace Like a River”. It covers the first 3 fruits of the Spirit – Love, Joy, and Peace, and uses water as a simile for those virtues. This fun song compares the LOVE of God to an ocean. And so, I got to thinking about LOVE like an OCEAN. WHY did the song refer to LOVE like an OCEAN? Well, an ocean is very very deep, and very very wide, and very very BIG. Which reminds me of a verse:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

This verse is talking about God’s LOVE. And as Christians, we should be “rooted and grounded in” His Love (Ephesians 3:17). Love is listed first in the fruit of the Spirit because it is foundational to all the rest. We can do all kinds of good and spiritual things, BUT, if we don’t do them with LOVE, we have nothing! If we truly love God, and are thankful for what He has done for us, we will pass on that love to others, and the Lord Jesus confirms that the whole Law can be summed up by loving God and loving others! (Read Matthew 22:36-40, and Mark 12:30-32). So, if we can get a handle on God’s LOVE, that’s really all we need to know! And, we can only live out God’s LOVE when we yield to His Holy Spirit, and allow Him to LOVE others through us. 

When we stand before the Lord and our works are judged, I believe that we will be judged on how much (or how little) we showed love for God and for others. Paul said that our lives are an “…epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2) –a letter that all people watching can ‘read’! It has been said that people may not read the book of Acts or the book of Revelation, but they will watch our lives and our “acts” will “reveal” a whole lot! I hope that they see our lives as a LOVE letter from God, telling others how much He loves them and wants to have a relationship with them.

So, LOVE is pretty important! True Christians (those who have trusted in Christ and Christ alone for our salvation, by believing that He died on the Cross to pay the price for our sins) are a very small minority in this world. Which means that God’s LOVE –that results from a Christian being indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, and then yielding to that Holy Spirit—is in short supply in this world. It’s no wonder our world is in such trouble! At the beginning I said that the opposite is a selfish, hateful, envious, critical spirit. Isn’t that what we are seeing with the increase in divorce, single-parent homes, abuse, domestic violence and the horrific school shootings?

I know I have written a couple of blogs about LOVE (‘All you need is Love’ and ‘Love is in the Air’), but that’s because it is so important. My prayer is that others will see God’s LOVE in me, and that I can pass it on to others. I pray others will see it in you, too!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

“We cannot love too much.” –Amy Carmichael

Fruit of the Spirit

fruit-of-the-spirit-KJV-1.jpgBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  (Galatians 5:22,23)

Our Pastor encouraged us to set spiritual goals for 2018, and the only goal I can think of is to be more Christ-like. And, what is more Christ-like than the 9-fold Fruit of the Spirit? So, this year, that will be my focus. Here’s a brief synopsis of what I know right now about the Fruit of the Spirit, and I am going to try to go more in-depth through the year as time permits, and as the LORD leads…

Love – The essential ingredient for all other graces to grow. Not a feeling, but a choice. Self-sacrificing, seeking what’s best for others, expecting nothing in return. The opposite is a selfish, hateful, envious, critical spirit.

Joy –The ‘smile of the soul’ that is unaffected by people or circumstances. It grows from the love of God flowing in and through us. Our relationship with the Lord makes us thankful for everything when we focus on Him and abide in His presence. The opposite is a selfish, ungrateful, complaining spirit.

Peace – The ‘conscious possession of adequate resources’. Knowing that our loving God is in control, and resting in Him, helps us to worry about nothing, pray about everything and be thankful for anything. The opposite is worry, fear, and anxiety in our soul.

Longsuffering –When we realize how patient and forgiving our loving Lord has been with us, we can extend the same to others. Patience is accepting a trial in our lives, and waiting for God to work, without giving Him a deadline to remove it. The opposite is selfishness, impatience and an unforgiving, bitter spirit.

Gentleness – Jesus always responded with kindness and compassion, He understood that human beings are valuable and fragile, and need to be handled with care. When we yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and show kindness to others, we are doing it to our Lord. The opposite is a selfish, unkind, insensitive, and rude spirit.

Goodness – Just doing what is right and good, as Jesus “…went about doing good”. God’s indwelling love will help us to sacrifice and do good even to those who are not good to us. It is enough to know that God saw and smiled. The opposite is a selfish, worldly, sinful, and retaliatory spirit.

Faith – Having a firm faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and acting on it! Our faithfulness to Christ and to others will cause us to shine as bright lights in this dark world. The opposite is a doubting, distrustful and untrustworthy spirit.

Meekness – Having a humble servant’s spirit that is more interested in being a servant than in being served. Not insisting on my own rights, rather insisting on putting other’s and God’s will first. The opposite is a prideful, arrogant, and selfish spirit.

Temperance – Strength from the Lord not to give in to indulgences, desires, and passions, and to submit to God’s will. Having a guard on our mouth, and a leash on our temper. The opposite is a selfish, carnal spirit, controlled by self and the flesh.

I look forward to studying these nine visible attributes that grow in us as we yield to the Holy Spirit’s control, and sharing my discoveries with you. I’m already working on “Love” for February, and will post at the end of each month what I learn about each fruit.

~ Graced and Grateful Grammy

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving”

 

 

Little Arrows

Little Arrowsquiver

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed…” (Psalm 127:3-5)

I have been thinking a lot lately about my children, how we raised them, and how thankful I am that they are all such fun people to be around. It must be because I miss them all after having them all home at Christmas.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert, and my children are not all full-grown yet. But, as my husband and I like to say about our five children, “there’s not a throwback in the bunch!” I thought I would share with you some principles we used when raising our children. So, here are some of my thoughts as a mother of five and grandmother of three, on how we raised our children – you will notice that the fruit of the Spirit is woven throughout, which is no surprise, because it takes the fruit of the Spirit in us parents to raise good kids, and our aim is for them to be led by the Spirit.

LOVE them – As a mother, our job is to LOVE our children (Titus 2:4), and loving our children encompasses a lot: Protecting, guiding, nurturing, nursing, saying “NO” when necessary, being there for them, and looking out for their best interests – in a self-sacrificing, unconditional manner, as our Heavenly Father loves us. My husband likes to give our children the “I’m the best friend you’ll ever have speech”, because, really, their friends will come and go, their friends will not put their needs ahead of their own, and their friends may not always be in their lives.

PRAY for them – Someone once challenged me, “If you don’t pray for your children, WHO do you think will?” That struck me to the core! I MUST pray for my kids. Daily. Fervently. (James 5:16). Pray for them to seek and obey God’s will. Pray that they will grow in His grace and knowledge. Pray for their protection from evil. Pray for their future spouses (whenever my children bring home a ‘special someone’, I always think “is this the one I’ve been praying for all these years?”). When we pray, God gives us that PEACE that passes all understanding as we place them in His capable hands, knowing that they belong to Him anyway (Philippians 4:7).

SPEAK to them about God and His Word – Family devotions are so important, especially when children are young. They need to hear their parents talking about God and His Word, and how it applies to every aspect of our lives, and it should be a natural part of our everyday conversations (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). We gave our children Bibles as soon a they were old enough to carry it to Church by themselves. I used to teach them to repeat after me what the Bible says (in a nutshell, at their level of understanding): “Jesus loves me, and obey your Parents!” They would repeat it back, it was funny, but true! They need to learn at an early age that they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that their FAITH needs to be in Him for their salvation.

DISCIPLINE them – Children need our help to stay on track, if you’ve spent any time around children you know that their natural bent is to be selfish and foolish. They need help! Don’t be afraid to say “No”, even when it’s hard to (Hebrews 12:11), because you know what’s best for them. They need to learn TEMPERANCE, or SELF-CONTROL. One definition of the word “discipline” is training that makes people more willing to obey or more able to control themselves, often in the form of rules, and punishments if these are broken And that’s exactly what we do!

Teach them to WORK HARD – A good work ethic is invaluable! And, there is nothing more satisfying than to sit back and look at a job-well-done! (2 Thesselonians 3:10) That is something you should want your children to experience. Resist the urge to do it all for them! Our job as parents is to ‘work our way out of our job’ – lead our children into adulthood so that they can live independently of their parents. It will take PATIENCE and LONG SUFFERING, but it will be worth it.

LAUGH with them – Don’t forget to have fun with your children. Laugh with them (Proverbs 15:13). Make home a haven where they know they can come and relax, enjoy some family private jokes, and be themselves. It should be a JOY for them to come home, they shouldn’t dread it!

Teach them to be KIND – My husband still teases me about the number of times I would proclaim to my kids, “Be ye KIND one to another!” My mother taught me to ‘kill them with kindness’ when someone was unkind to me, and it is Biblical truth (1 Thessalonians 5:15, Ephesians 4:32).

Teach them to be HONEST – We do this mostly by example. Don’t be a hypocrite! Now, I know we all act a little differently at home than we do at Church, but we have to practice what we preach, or it doesn’t mean anything! We always told our children the importance of telling the truth, and so we must be truthful too. Our “GOODNESS” cannot be skin deep, it must come from a heart that wants to please and serve our Savior (Matthew 12:35), and you know what? Our kids can see right through us!! So, don’t judge them harshly on something that you do (Matthew 7:5, Romans 2:1). Be honest for Goodness’ sake!

Teach them RESPECT for Authority – Children learn respect for authority from how their mother treats their father. The father is the head of the household, and if I am rebellious and disrespectful to him, they will be too! And they will be rebellious and disrespectful to other authority figures in their lives (Ephesians 5:15,33). It takes humility, or MEEKNESS. I have heard meekness described as “velvet over steel”, meekness is not weakness, it is having power but knowing when and how to use it in a kind and loving way that is helpful to everyone.

Our Pastor recently said at a baby dedication that children are like arrows – we place them in our “bow” of training them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, aim them at the “target” of living to please the Lord, and “shoot” them off into the world praying that they hit the mark. I pray that your arrows fly straight and to the “mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

I hope this was helpful, it’s pretty much common sense, but nowadays it seems like common sense isn’t so common! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5)