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The Apostle Paul on Parenting

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  • Dec8Mon

    Paul on Parenting: Parenting by Grace

    December 8, 2014
    Dr. James Boyd

    What is the primary mode of communicating the real Christian walk to our children?  According to 2 Cor. 3:12-18, it involves reflection, transformation, and boldness. In what precedes this passage, Paul contrasts the old covenant of the Law, which brings condemnation, with the new covenant of grace, which brings righteousness. Paul concludes that the new covenant is so great, it actually eclipses the former greatness of the Law. Since the covenant of grace ought to shape the way one parents, Paul's conclusion also shows how much better parenting by grace is than parenting by mere rules. So what does this parenting according to the new covenant look like?

    12 Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness. 13 We are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not stare at the the end of what was fading away, 14 but their minds were closed. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. 15 Even to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (HCSB)

    First, it requires that the parent be a Christian who is sensitive and striving to be led by the Spirit rather than the Law. Following rules produces "poser" parents. Poser parents produce poser children. To be a "real" Christian parent is to chase after the Spirit of God so that the children will learn to do the same. Verse 18 says that with "unveiled faces, [we] are reflecting the glory of the Lord." This effective evangelism principal is also invaluable for parenting. As we meet with Christ, we reflect the glow of His character and work. The phrase "are reflecting" is in the active voice, which means that it is something that we do, not something done to us. We strive to reflect with great intensity and accuracy who Christ is and what He has done so that our children can see and follow Him.

    "Real" Christian parenting, however, does not stop with striving to reflect Jesus, since even this can become shallow legalism. Paul goes on to say that the believer is "being transformed into the same image." As a parent walks with Jesus and strives to reflect Him, there will be a real change into the likeness of Christ. Notice that "are being transformed" is in the passive voice, which means that the transformation is something done to the parents, but not by the parents. For children not to rebel, they must see parents striving to reflect Christ and they must see Christ transforming their parents in inexplicable ways. "From glory to glory" describes the change. It means that our children will see us mature from being rule-based believers (reflecting the good things of the "glory" of the Law) to Spirit-led believers (reflecting the far greater things of the "glory" of Christ). Since the change is internal, real, and God-enacted, it is unfading. When parents reflect, are transformed, and are bold (vs. 12) about it, students will follow eventually. They want what is real.         

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