I have an electronic photo album on my desk that scrolls family pictures from various events for my viewing. There are times that I find myself fixated on the screen flashing back to family times together, longing to spend time with those very close to my heart, but physically a fair distance across the country.
The pictures remind me not just of my family and friends but of special events with them. I have pictures of my daughter’s wedding, my other daughter’s graduation, family vacations in the Rocky Mountains and gatherings around the kitchen table. We have camping pictures, pictures with grandparents, pictures of Christmas celebrations, and pictures of hugs and laughter. The common element in all the pictures is the smiles on the faces of family enjoying each other.
I know how very blessed I am and that not all share similar experiences in life. This saddens me, especially when I minister to needs of people who struggle in relationships and life in general.
Proverbs 10:1 says, “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.” I am reminded by this verse how much of either joy or grief that can dominate one’s life because of the decisions of children. May I add, that may be more true of adult children than small children.
I am not a believer in spiritual formulas that guarantee success if applied with exactness. Rather, I believe there are spiritual principles that God gives us in his word that generally lead to predictable results, some in the immediate time frame and some over a more extended period of time.
One such principle is found in Hebrews 10:24. This is normally not a verse used in the context of raising children, but it has direct application none the less. This verse says, “Let us consider how we may encourage one another on toward love and good deeds.”
It is clear that we need to think or figure out how to encourage others towards the end of love and good deeds. This is the training part of child rearing but it is not formula based or task oriented. The goal of this instruction is to help others, our children in my context, learn to love and to give. I don’t know if this is possible without demonstrating with our own love and sacrifice. It is so true that we teach much more effectively by the way we live than through words only. No one is quicker to pick up hypocrisy and inconsistency than a child.
When we encourage we give courage. Children need encouragement to do what is right. The media, advertising, and entertainment pull our children towards a life of self-gratification, which is a nice term for selfishness. Love is just the opposite. We need to demonstrate love before our children so they can learn the joy that giving returns to us.
We make the world a better place one life at a time and one family at a time. I wish to encourage you to encourage others, especially our younger ones to love and to give. The rewards are pretty special.