As a parent, you long for the days that are calm without the challenge. Now that I am out of the daily grind of parenting, I can reflect more clearly on truths that I wish I had better practiced.
1. My goal should have been to train them to be heaven-focused, not self-focused. My goal was not to keep the peace.
Out of weariness and lack of real understanding, I often gave in to my daughters’ selfish whining. If I had taken note that fulfilling their pleasure was actually the source of more conflict, you can be assured that I would have thought through my responses a bit better.
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” (James 4:1)
2. My goal should have been to keep looking at things above, not to make their childhood better than mine.
Granted we are to “do to others what you would have them do to you”. Yet, sometimes, this really isn’t our motive. Instead, we do for our children as we wished it had been done for us. Such motive is self-centered and not helpful for you or the child. The better way is to practically teach them how to keep redirecting their thoughts to things which are true, honorable, right, pure and lovely.
3. My goal should have been to help them spend wisely, not merely spend upon themselves.
If an allowance is solely for the purpose of giving a child spending money for themselves, then we haven’t taught any spiritual principles. Helping a child understand to save a portion for tithe, gifts, and a “rainy day” are far more strategic. Allowing it to be only for their own whims only reinforces a selfish motive to “spend it on their own pleasures.”
Time is also of essence here. Using your own free time wisely gives you the authority to speak into the way they use theirs. If you feel that your children are wasting their time, you might look into the way you use yours before you address their problem.
Can you restrict their internet time in a clear conscience if you don’t moderate your own?
Do you model surfing the web or watching movies instead of teaching them how to interact with others?
Do they see you setting aside time for His word?
“Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves…You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to.” (James 4:1-3 The Message)
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? (James 4:4 NASB)
So then, how do you teach your children to be a friend of God, instead of the world?
I ducked my head and stepped into the cramped, dank room. Pausing to let my eyes adjust to the inky darkness, a hundred beady eyes glared my way.
Distrust and fear seemed to be a prerequisite for entry and I felt a still, small voice checking my motive. I took a deep breath and stepped onto the dingy floor.
I had come for one purpose and intended to exit as quickly as I had come.
Boldly, I brushed past grotesque figures as the smells of smoke and stench filled my lungs. Some held liquor, some held knives, some simply clinched their fists in hatred.
I spotted my friends in the corner and moved briskly toward them. They were coming with me out of this hellish place.
We locked eyes and they both smiled in relief. Dressed to the nines, I was pleased that they looked so fresh in spite of their musty surroundings. I motioned to the door and they quickly stood to follow.
The crowd seemed restless and I avoided eye contact as the three of us wove our way to the door. The incense in the air was oppressive and I held my breath the last several steps. I welcomed the crisp fall air as I escaped into the starry openness of the night.
I was so relieved to make our get-away, I hadn’t noticed that the door had not yet closed. Slithering out with their friends, the whole lot of evil had followed us to my car.
I had only come for Jealousy and Selfish Ambition. Now, it seemed I was taking home much, much more.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:16).
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Isn’t it strange how we think that we can pick and choose our sins?
We feel that we can stroke the cat of jealously and yet leave the other “more dangerous” animals sleeping in the corner.
James tells us that this just isn’t so.
Selfishness, in any form, is ugly, wicked, and evil.
When we crack the door for selfishness, we’ve unwittingly invited a multitude of other devilish qualities. Our stubborn friendship with jealousy and ambition secretly invites their family members of hatred, strife, and impurity into our lives.
Have you allowed envy to infiltrate your life?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you have at least cracked the door to jealousy. And if this selfishness exists, your religion is just a covering for fleshliness.
“..those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8).
Spend some time allowing the Father to convict in regard to envy today. Ask Him to create a new spirit of freshness in your relationships.
What did He speak to you about today?