Christian Charity Begins at Home
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Faith without works is dead. I have seen so many of My precious people “just playing church” from week to week. So many have ceased to be a bright and shining light even within the limited context of their own immediate families! So many parents in cold congregations barely ever mention My Name to their kids. Though they might put on their “Sunday best manners” when among other believers in the church house, they don’t even SHOW their own children what Jesus is like by the way they interact with them from day to day. Their “Sunday manners” and their “regular manners” are polar opposites.
Parents, even Christian ones, yell rudely (yes, it IS possible to be rude to a child, not just an adult) at their children when they want them to do something, or find fault with them in any way, instead of CALMLY speaking to them in a tone of love and gentleness. My Son was GENTLE with small children, and very patient toward them. He knew they were still growing and maturing, still learning, and most of the little children who approached Him genuinely wanted to please Him. Jesus took time to listen to their childlike concerns, comforted them, blessed them. But today’s harried, anxious, work-weary parents are so stressed out from the hardships and demands of day-to-day life that they find it hard to slow down and communicate in a tone of love. They don’t talk. They YELL!
The worst disrespect parents can show towards little children (and teenagers too) is to mock them for perceived faults and failures. Some parents make fun of a teenage girl for putting on a few pounds, so she ends up being an anorectic because she longs for dignity and fears mistreatment. Instead of saying “thank you” for a lovely picture drawn by their five-year-old, critical parents will poke fun at the drawing’s imperfections. When kids bring home a bad report card, some parents fly into a rage and call the poor child “stupid” even if he tried his hardest to please THEM. Immature Christian moms and dads live vicariously through their children, especially their sons. When junior fails to score a home run out on the baseball field, dad might berate him for slipping, tripping or being too slow. He might even mock his son’s masculinity for being a “wimp”.
Misguided parents think they’re doing their kids a favor by insulting and ridiculing them for failure to live up to THEIR expectations. If the child utters a feeble protest to protect his or her dignity, they’re told to shut up and grow up, and stop acting like a crybaby. After all, if they can’t take a little “kidding” from those who allegedly love them, they won’t be able to go out and face the REAL dog-eat-dog world! The parent is allegedly “toughening their son or daughter up” to desensitize them so they’ll develop a thicker hide.
Christian parents, NOWHERE do I teach such perverse child-rearing methods in My Holy Word! Instead, My Son taught “Whatever you want others to do to you, treat them the same way.” Fathers, would you want YOUR son to call you a limp-wristed sissy or a hopeless loser? Mothers, would you want YOUR daughter to call YOU a fat, lazy couch potato slob no one will want to take out? Cruel words wither the spirit of an individual and create countless future problems. Your sins against your son or daughter will come back to haunt you and I’ll hold you just as accountable as if you’d insulted a fellow adult. SATAN is behind a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle abuse going on in professing Christian homes today. If you talk about Jesus to your kids and then act like the devil except when you’re at church, don’t be surprised if your mixed-up kids reach the point where they don’t want anything further to do with Me, just because you presented a false, ugly picture of Christ in your own life. If you cause just ONE of these little ones to stumble and depart from the faith, it would be better for you if a millstone were tied around your neck and you drowned in the depths of the sea (Matt.18:6).
Paul commands parents NOT to provoke their children to get all upset at them (Col.3:21). Some parents, even so-called Christian believers, will take nasty little digs at their kids just because they’re in no position to escape. These parents figure that since they pay for necessities to maintain the life and health of their kids, that they “own” them body and soul, which includes some imaginary right to treat their helpless kids with disrespect. If these childish adults think that way, I can treat them very same way. I the Lord also maintain THEIR lives with food, employment, and countless other blessings. I would never insult them but I would make them sense that there is a deep rift between them and Myself, an alienation which makes it feel like their prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. And I can remove My blessing from their lives and bring heartbreaking circumstances their way to humble their mean souls.
Being mean to somebody, especially those under your authority, can really hinder your prayers (I Pet.3:7). It’s bullying, not training for character development!
After being insulted and belittled throughout their childhood by “loving” parents, some grown-up kids still take cutting criticism from judgmental, harsh parents. The stressed-out child finds it difficult, if not impossible, to honor their father and mother when those parents refuse to honor them as worthwhile human beings formed in My own image. Countless caustic putdowns eat into a child’s soul like battery acid, damaging his or her self-esteem and making them think they’re a failure and good for nothing. I have had to patch up many frazzled, wounded souls who got chewed up by families who should have supported them, loved them in a POSITIVE way, and rallied around them when things got tough in the outside world.
A lot of homeless folks out on the street wouldn’t DARE go home to their parents for any support. Especially so-called “Christian” parents who believe so much in financial success that they find their own walking-wounded children an embarrassment in front of respectable Christian friends. These “parents” manage to find a lot of not-so-subtle ways to let their down-and-out kids know how they feel about them. Some homeless people would rather freeze out on the sidewalk than face the chilly treatment they’d get at “home”.
The Prodigal Son went out to make his own way in the world, armed with bagfuls of cash from the sale of his part of the family inheritance. Oh, he had lofty plans for his future, but he made a lot of dumb decisions. The Prodigal Son was a sociable guy who didn’t want to look like a square or a tightwad too stingy to treat his pals to a good time. Through the bad influence of bad friends, he got suckered into the swinging party animal scene, and to such an extent he became promiscuous and blew all his dad’s hard-earned finances on prostitutes and wild living.
When all his inheritance money was spent and the Prodigal Son had no more resources to fall back on, he realized he had to swallow his pride, get up out of the hog pen of failure and go home to his dad. This lad realized he ran the risk of being thoroughly scolded for failure and irresponsibility, if his dad spoke to him at all. But surely they wouldn’t begrudge him a few kitchen scraps they were going to throw out anyway. It was worth a try.
Foul-smelling, footsore and raggedy, the Prodigal Son limped toward his old boyhood home, hoping against hope for a civil welcome. His older brother, who had ALWAYS lived responsibly and NEVER disappointed his parents, got ticked off when he heard about his brother’s homecoming. “Throw the bum out” would have been his attitude, had his father not said that it was a wonderful thing that his lost brother had been found, and it was like life from the dead. The father of the Prodigal Son kept things in perspective, though his son had broken ALL the laws of success and lived a wild, undisciplined, wasteful life and had squandered money his dad had sweated for years to earn. Whereas the Prodigal Son had once been wild and headstrong, he became meek and teachable, and humbly appreciative of the blessings of home. Yet even BEFORE the Prodigal Son proved he’d changed, his dad embraced him and welcomed him home. No sharp words of rebuke or “I told you so”. No scolding. No ridicule. No insults. Just love and all the healing that love could bring to a soul shattered by sin and its consequences. Charity (MY LOVE IN ACTION) covers a multitude of sins (James 5:20; I Pet.4:8).
Christian parents, don’t EVER tear down your precious little children and growing youngsters when they need encouragement to mature into loving, strong, capable, Christlike adults. Wicked words minister death to another person’s soul! After years of being belittled, insulted and mistreated by other family members, even if they say they’re “just kidding”, there will be dire, sometimes permanent consequences. The grownup child will not face the workplace with the same degree of confidence as someone who has always been treated like a worthwhile individual. That person might cry at the slightest provocation because “life hurts”. If they’re a man, they might bottle up these bad emotions so much that it gnaws at their innards like a corrosive poison and could manifest in outward bodily illnesses. If they’re a woman, they might lose their natural feminine tenderness of heart and become so mistrustful and cynical they can’t stand working around the public, or even in the social setting of an office.
Many wounded believers need to be set free from spiritual bondages put on them by members of their own family before they can be all I’ve called them to be in the earth! To constantly speak negative words over your son or daughter, brother or sister is to CURSE them and set them up for future heartache and failure.
Don’t ever allow insults to fly back and forth between your children. Some say sibling rivalry is very normal, and there must be something wrong with any child who never fights to maintain his/her place in the pecking order.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Truly an evil tongue is a world of wickedness, set on fire by hell itself (James 3:6). I have heard the grossest insults exchanged between a dominant sibling trying to keep a younger brother or sister “in their place” and a child who is so stung they feel they can’t help but retaliate in order to save face. Quarreling children minister DEATH to each other through unkind, vicious verbal attacks.
Parents, always discipline your children in love. You don’t have to beat bad behavior out of them. Indeed you CAN’T beat the fallen nature out of anyone (Prov.27:22). If someone is determined to act like a fool, that is his nature and only the Cross of Christ can deliver him from satan’s bondage. Physical punishment is DANGEROUS in the hands of imperfect, out-of-control parents who are driven by anger and don’t know where to draw the line. If you’ve trained your child to love Jesus, and especially if they’re born again, they ought to RESPECTFULLY listen to you as a wise parent while you’re reprimanding them for bad behavior. Christian children should accept an appropriate punishment with the full knowledge of why it’s being inflicted. For some it could mean doing extra chores for a few days instead of having fun with their friends. For others, it could be loss of privileges or grounding.
There must be an appropriate apology and reconciliation between the one who said the cruel words and the one affected by the bad behavior. But if this apology is FORCED by threats of further or worse punishment, it probably isn’t heartfelt, just a convenient escape hatch. And so the enmity between the children will probably continue and may even escalate. If the child shows no evidence of repentance he needs to be warned that God in heaven watches and hears everything they do and say, and they are ultimately accountable to Me, not just to their parents. People saying “I’m sorry” out of social pressure to “repent” can TEMPORARILY escape trouble. But without godly sorrow there can be no real repentance or reconciliation with Me (2 Cor.7:10).
Always make the punishment fit the crime. If, for example, an older child verbally abuses a younger sibling by bragging that he gets to go to camp because he’s loved a whole lot more than the younger one, then he shouldn’t get to go. Instead, he ought to spend that time at home studying what My Word teaches about love. And once the child has prayed for forgiveness and received a fresh anointing of My love, he must DEMONSTRATE that love by being a friend and good example to his offended sibling.
Have compassion on those smaller and weaker than yourself, just as I have shown YOU compassion. A tiny child who offers to help you clean up after supper and drops a dish should not automatically be punished, if at all. That child has far less control over his chubby little hands than you have over your mature, skilful ones, and chances are it was an accident. If the little child enjoys a close relationship with you and wants to please you, they probably feel bad enough about the mishap. If they act embarrassed or upset about it, they should be comforted and reassured that it wasn’t their fault and you still love them. Even go so far as to thank them for loving you and helping you. A broken plate is far less of a tragedy than a tiny broken heart.
While it’s important to explain why bad behavior is wrong, children especially need to be reminded that THEIR sins helped put My precious Son on the Cross. And those sins include every thoughtless cruel word, every mean prank, every bit of malice they’ve ever harbored toward others. Forgiveness in Christ is free but it doesn’t come cheap!
Christian parents, children learn by watching your daily example. Don’t just tell them about Jesus and His love. SHOW THEM!
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