The Best Big Brother Ever

The Christian should try to be as popular as possible without compromising biblical doctrine and morals.

Some Christians measure faithfulness by how much other people hate them; others put friendliness above faithfulness.

However the Christian should aim for maximum faithfulness and maximum friendliness, just as the teenage Jesus grew in favor with God AND man (Lk. 2:52). His heavenly relationship developed and deepened in tandem with his earthly relationships. His spiritual growth coincided with his social growth, and the latter did not compromise the former but rather revealed and strengthened it.

And where did Jesus learn, practice, and mature His social skills? Primarily in His family home, His family relationships, and the family business.

The home and family continues to be the primary place our children learn to “grow in favor with man;” to love their neighbors; the hardest neighbors of all to love; the ones nearest to us; yes, our brothers and sisters.

But how do we measure that? How can we help our children to grow in favor with their brothers and sisters? Here are five loving actions I want to see my kids developing in their relationships with each other.

Communication: Yes, simply sitting down and talking to one another, even just for a few minutes. “What did you do today? How’s school going?, etc.”

Congratulation: Rejoicing when her brother rejoices. Enjoying his sister’s victories and successes. “Well done, I’m so happy for you.”

Commiseration: Weeping with those who weep. Expressing sympathy and sorrow when things don’t turn out so well. “I’m so so sorry, where does it hurt? Can I do anything to make it better?”

Contribution: Blessing them with generous presents and gifts. “Here, I’d like you to have the last piece of cheesecake.”

Collaboration: Working together rather than fighting together.”Can I help you…Would you help me, please?”

Or to put int simply: Speak, Rejoice, Weep, Give, Help.

It’s stunning to think of Jesus growing perfectly in all these areas in His family life as He prepared for wider social life and ministry.

The perfect combination of maximum friendliness and maximum faithfulness.

The best big brother ever.

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Discipline: Waste or Profit?

Yesterday we looked at the most fundamental and foundational duty of children – obedience.

But what happens when they disobey? That’s when discipline may be appropriate. I’ve written before for parents about how not to discipline. Here now for kids are five ways to waste good discipline followed by five ways to benefit from it.

How to Waste Discipline

  • Refuse it: Fight against it, don’t take it, resist it, refuse to comply.
  • Resent it: ”I don’t deserve that…How dare she speak to me like that…treat me like that.”
  • Minimize it: ”Huh, call that a spanking? You think that fine hurts me? That’s just nothing.”
  • Despair under it: “What’s the point in even trying…I can’t do anything right.”
  • Retaliate against it: “I’ll get my own back. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

How to Profit From Discipline

  • Expect it: “I’m a sinner and I’m going to err. I should therefore anticipate and even prepare for chastisement.”
  • Accept it: “I deserve this…and more. This is just and appropriate.”
  • Repent for it: “Lord God/Dad and Mom, I’ve done wrong, I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
  • Pray about it: “Lord help me to learn my lesson and use this discipline to produce good fruit in my life.”
  • Thank for it: “Dad and Mom, thank you for loving me enough to confront my sin and correct me through discipline when I don’t listen to your instruction.”

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

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When Love Becomes An Instinct

One for your kids

Hi kids. I usually write a few lines each day for your Mom and Dad, but today I thought I’d write something for you.

I was doing a Bible study about children the other day, and discovered that the most common word God uses when talking about children is “obedience.” Here’s a couple of New Testament verses for you (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). You can also find this word lots of times in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Proverbs.

Whatever else you want to be, you must aim and strive to be obedient. That’s not too complicated, is it? It simply means doing what you are told by God, parents, teachers, and others in positions of authority over you.

But obedience is not a very fashionable or popular idea today. In fact, we’re in danger of losing this whole concept from our families, our churches, and our culture. So here’s a quick summary of the kind of obedience God requires from you, and we’ll focus especially on obeying our parents.

1. Total obedience: Do everything your parents say unless it’s clearly contrary to God’s Word. Underline “all things” in Colossians 3:20.

2. Speedy obedience: Delayed obedience is disobedience.

3. Cheerful obedience: Not with sullen face and resentful spirit but willingly and happily.

4. Unquestioning obedience: As you get older, there may be times when you might ask for an explanation for why Mom and Dad are asking you to do something. But that questioning should never be rebellious and a way of avoiding obedience, but rather to help obedience.

5. Unseen obedience: This means obeying even when your parents are not there to see.

6. Initiated obedience: Don’t just wait passively until you are asked to do something but actively volunteer to help, ask in what way you can obey your parents better.

7. Happy obedience: Paul says that obeying our parents is not just right, it’s pleasing to God (Col. 3:20), it makes Him happy. But it also makes us happy too. Psalm 1 celebrates how a life lived in the study and practice of the Bible is the happiest life there can ever be.

8. Life-extending obedience: If we honor our parents by obeying them, God promises to extend our life (Ex. 20:12). Of course God sometimes wisely decides to make some exceptions to that, but in general we can say that obedient children live longer, not just because their lifestyle will be safer, but because of God’s blessing.

9. Temporary obedience: When does the obligation to obey our parents end? Some say 18, or 21, or when we go to college. However, these are all cultural norms. The Bible points to marriage as the game-changer. Although we should never stop honoring our parents, obeying them does undergo a change at marriage. We “leave” our father and mother, and “cleave” to our wife or husband. Although we would be wise to continue to consult our parents and seek their blessing on our decisions, marriage sets up a new family unit and a new center of authority. (What this means for adult singles is another subject).

10. Revealing obedience: Your parents are God’s representatives in your life. He has appointed them to rule you in His name. The way you talk and listen to them reveals how you talk and listen to God. The state of your relationship with them reveals the state of your relationship with God.

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