December 28, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Parents and Children”

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

This is not a devotional; this is a confession.  

I can genuinely say in all the ways that matter, I want my son to exceed me.  I want him to be more successful and smarter than me; I wish him to be a better athlete and educated than I am; I desire that he becomes a better friend, father, husband, and most important, a better follower of our Lord.  So when I think about my desires for my son, I know in my heart that I genuinely love him, not just a little, but tremendously.

I can also genuinely say this: There is no one on earth who can infuriate me like my son can.  I can’t tell you how many times when we’re playing baseball in the backyard, he’ll give me a little bit of his attitude, and I’m so tempted to just chuck the ball at his stomach (hyperbolically speaking).  Or if I want to teach him something that will benefit him later on, and he blows me off as if Legos are more important than a life lesson.  Or after asking me how to do something that I’m more than capable of doing, he has the audacity to reject my wisdom in favor of doing it his way, only to then mess it up.  Those are times when I want to (or do) flip my lid!

I didn’t realize I had a bad temper until I had children; my son also has a temper.  In truth, we “exasperate” each other. I love my son, and I’m very confident he loves me.  I think we have a good relationship, and so those incidents that I just described, while happening almost daily, haven’t had long term damaging effects on our relationship (or at least haven’t shown up yet).  

They say that in the brain, the amygdala controls emotions like love and anger, so love and anger are physically really close together.  Through having children (all four of them), I’ve realized it’s true. However, spiritually speaking, I would say that love and anger are very far apart?  (See 1 Cor. 13:6). It makes total sense to me that Paul would instruct father’s not to exasperate their children, but rather to raise them up in the Lord.  God help all parents. Lord, give me patience—the sooner the better! Lord, thanks for teaching me patience; thanks for being patient with me.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to love my children (or future children, or any person really) as You love us.  If I struggle with anger, help me to replace it with love. Help me to know that You gave me my children as well as my parents for a reason—to be more like You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Proverbs 29


Lunch Break Study

Read Proverbs 29:22-27:

An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. 23 Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. 24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies; they are put under oath and dare not testify. 25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. 26 Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice. 27 The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some of the character issues raised in this passage?
  2. What do you think the Proverbs writer means when he says the fear of man will be a snare?
  3. What do the righteous detest, and what do the wicked detest?

Notes

  1. Anger (vs. 22) which stirs up conflict and causes sin.  Pride is also mentioned in vs. 23, but ultimately pride brings us low, not lifts us up.
  2. Fear of people is like a trap or snare that either slows us down terribly or stops us altogether from doing what God has in store for us.  
  3. While it stands to reason that the righteous hate dishonesty, it’s ironic, but also true that the wicked hate the upright.  People don’t like others that reveal our shortcomings.

Evening Reflection

The latter half of many New Testament epistles are practice-driven; in other words, it addresses how faith ought to impact our everyday life.  Today’s passage asks how Christ impacts your relationship with your children and parents? This evening take some time to reflect on other relationships (work, school, church, etc.) that need the grace of God in your life.

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