The Beatitudes of Parenting
- Thursday, September 08, 2011
Jesus’s Beatitudes are profound for many reasons, not the least of which is how applicable their lessons are to different life situations. One can apply the Beatitudes to find practical advice on how to be a godly husband, wife, employer, or employee, just to name a few possibilities. In this article, I would like to expound on the Beatitudes by applying their timeless lessons to parenting.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
My favorite definition of being “poor in spirit” is understanding our complete bankruptcy in anything of spiritual value. Parenting seems to bring this bankruptcy to light on a daily basis! The enormity of the task of training up eternal souls, each with unique strengths, weaknesses, and personalities, for life now and for life in heaven, is overwhelming.
But I should remember that when I feel weak, inadequate, and perhaps even like a failure at this amazing job of motherhood, I am blessed. The very knowledge of my weakness qualifies me for an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
One day I was asked by a visitor how I could keep a candy bowl on my table in easy reach. “Don’t your children get into it?” she asked.
While my family certainly has its own areas of weakness, we’ve never had any trouble with our children sneaking sweets. Their dad and I enjoy a piece after dinner, but having it around doesn’t tempt us to overindulge, and our children have followed suit. But as I thought about my friend, I realized that she’s always had a weakness for sweets, and her question indicated to me that her children had inherited this weakness.
While this is a small, almost silly example of how parents unconsciously pass on traits to their children, we see a more serious example in the pages of Scripture. Genesis 12 and 20 record two incidences of Abraham lying because he was afraid he would be killed by pagan kings so they could take his wife, Sarah. Frighteningly, we witness Abraham’s son Isaac perjuring himself in exactly the same way to a pagan king (Genesis 26), even though he was not yet born when his father did so.
Either Isaac witnessed other acts of dishonesty in his father that are not recorded and picked up the tendency to protect himself with lies that way, or there is a spiritual sowing and reaping taking place here that is very sobering. The truth of the adage, “Like father, like son,” should lead us to mourn for our sins for the sake of protecting our children from repeating our mistakes.
Sometimes the amount of mourning I’m required to do can be discouraging. I sometimes think that if I could only be a perfect parent, my children would turn out well. Constantly making mistakes and apologizing to my children seems far from perfection! But I was taken aback one day when I heard the head of a family I greatly admire declare that he walks before his family in daily repentance. I would have thought this family had achieved perfection, but the dad admitted that he makes mistakes all the time that he has to apologize for and then correct.
It struck me that repenting and mourning for my sin in front of my children is more important than perfection. I will never achieve perfection in this lifetime, but if I can show my children an example of humility and brokenness before them and before God, and if I can model for them how to mourn for their sin, I will have given them spiritual training that will serve them well throughout their lives.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
The most popular definition of meekness I’ve heard is “strength under control.” Jesus was an example of this. As God, He could have ordered all of humanity to bow before Him—and forced them to comply. Instead, He was meek and always submitted His power and authority to God.
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