Hypocrite Proofing the Home
- Monday, September 15, 2008
How do you teach your kids what is right when they cannot look to your childhood or young adulthood as an example? My friend was feeling a little anxious and was worried that her child might be shaken up over the news that his parents were not the picture-perfect model of purity and chastity.
It was a neat conversation. I have never thought of my past as being a “scary topic.” On the contrary, I truly believe that for those of us who were saved later in life, our past affords a great opportunity to personally illustrate the most incredible thing in the universe.
Since very early on, my husband and I have always tried to be completely real and transparent in front of our kids about who Christ is and how He came to save sinners. Sinners like us and sinners like them. Even when they were very young, I would take advantage of opportunities to let my kids know that my life was a slimy mess when I did not walk in obedience to God (and that it can still be a slimy mess when I don’t walk in obedience to God … but more on that later). And even still, when my children notice somebody who seems particularly wicked—a nasty, rebellious-looking teenager yelling at her parents, an immodestly dressed woman, the drunk man who makes a spectacle of himself in town, etc.—I let them know, “It looks like they may not know our Lord.” And I also let them know, “Kids, before I knew the Lord, my actions looked even uglier. There are a lot of things that God has saved me from. I am grateful for His mercy and grace.”
No, I don’t think that my past will be a stumbling block to my children. My past is an incredible testimony of the Truth of Christ, which transforms lives completely. If I am faithful, my past is an opportunity to live out a beautiful life of grace and love that has been born out of what used to be a miserable mess. The challenge is not the past, the challenge is the present. If we claim Christ today, what are our kids seeing in our lives here and now? I know from personal experience that if the mama acts like a nasty sea hag all day but instantly transforms into a smiling, sweet, sappy saint when the pastor’s wife suddenly rings up on the phone, a very loud character training message is being sent. If we claim Christ, we cannot be liars.
It is not just the outward, blatant sins that should have been “put away with the old man.” The nastiness of hypocritical, angry, dominating spirits—those sour, prideful sins are possibly even more ugly and destructive than the others. It’s in how we live now, while claiming Christ, that real damage can be done.
The homeschool community is an interesting one. It is growing by leaps and bounds, yet it still seems predominantly comprised of families that are Christian and Conservative. I wonder how (or if) these parents of first and second generation homeschoolers are hypocrite proofing the home. As much as I hate to admit it, it seems typical to find an air of arrogance and hypocrisy with these “above average Christian kids.” These kids know the statistics. They know they are outscoring their public school counterparts academically. When they meet strangers at the store, on an airplane, in the doctor’s office, or at church, they hear the same thing: “You seem so mature. You communicate so well. Most kids your age don’t have your kind of manners.” Etc., etc., etc.
Yes, homeschoolers are getting a reputation for being generally better behaved, more mature, better communicators, more socially adept and involved, less inclined to “follow the crowd.” But are they also getting a reputation for being snobs, uncompassionate, and prideful? For those of us who claim Christ (and for our young homeschoolers who claim Christ), this should never be the case.
There is a story in Luke 7:36. It begins with a Pharisee who desired to have Jesus dine with him, so Jesus went to his home for a meal. While Jesus was there, Luke says that a woman who was a known sinner heard that He was at the Pharisee’s house, so she brought an alabaster box of ointment, and she stood at Jesus’ feet, behind Him, weeping. And she began wiping her tears off of His feet with her own hair and anointed His feet with the oil. When the Pharisee saw this, he thought to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him.”
Jesus spoke to him and said, “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” The Pharisee answered, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.”
Jesus told him that he judged correctly, and then He said, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” I don’t know about you, but that really compels me to desire to teach my kids the full truth. I cannot just teach them what they should not do. The void left by the “don’t dos” needs to be filled in with what they should do. “Don’t do this; do this instead.” If my character training boils down to, “Don’t dress like Susie,” or if I am simply pointing out the faults of others as examples of Christian failure, then I am setting up both myself and my kids to be the biggest, ugliest Pharisees that ever walked the continent.
Our children’s good manners, superior education, modest clothing, hard work ethic, community service, Bible verse recitation, or various other “deeds” cannot save them. In all actuality, there is potential here to accidentally cultivate a false sense of security that will become a significant danger to them later. Don’t get me wrong: these are all very good things, and we are wise to train our children in righteousness, diligence, and the like. My entire point is that we must not neglect to train them in humility, compassion and kindness.
How do you teach children that? Do they realize they are sinners? Do they know how far away they are from God? Do they know they need a savior? Or are they like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 who stood praying to himself, saying “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” The publican who had been used as the Pharisees’ “object lesson” would not even look up to Heaven. He beat his chest and cried, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Who do you think was justified? Christ said that, “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
This is not the easiest thing for me to write, because I know I am guilty of not training my kids in humility by my example. It is easier to have a works-oriented mindset. It is easier to hand out lists than to lead by example. And it is easy to fall into a false philosophy that goes to the other extreme: one that says, “Don’t shelter your kids from the world; let them experience a bit of sin so they will see their need for God.” (Yes, there really is tripe like that making the rounds.)
Nobody said it would be easy. And you, like me, may have days where you are tempted to hand off this huge responsibility to somebody else (somebody you think is “more qualified”). Well, sorry, my friend. God chose you to be your child’s parent. He must know that you are capable for the task. Nothing is impossible with Him. Love God. Know Him. Obey His Word; seek Him first above all else. It is not impossible. It is imperative. It is what we are called to.
God bless you as you seek Him. We are in this together. I pray we will be faithful with the treasure He has given us.
Jenefer Igarashi is married to Geoff the Great and homeschools her six children (ages 4 – 19) near the Smoky Mountains in East TN. Visit Jen at her blog, http://jeneralities.com/
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