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Articles for Godly Living

A resource of different articles written by our staff as they apply scripture truths.

The Apostle Paul on Parenting

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  • Dr. James Boyd

    When our children tell us something enough times, I think we have a tendency to begin to believe it as true, or at least accept it as reality. When children say “it’s not my fault” enough, parents often begin to doubt themselves and to feel that maybe they, themselves, are culpable for their children’s shortcomings. Paul, however, offers a good reminder for parents in 2 Corinthians 6:11-12. He first identifies the parents’ responsibilities and then he identifies the reason why the Corinthians fell short.

    11 We have spoken openly to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide. 12 You are not limited by us, but you are limited by your own affections. 2 Corinthians 6:11-12 (HCSB)

    Paul begins by telling his spiritual children that their sin is not due to his silence. He “opened his mouth” to them. He spoke words of godly instruction. This ought to motivate parents not to shy away from speaking truth to their children. Paul made sure that their failure was not due to his own lack of good, biblical instruction. Second, Paul told them that he opened his heart wide to them. Beyond verbal instruction, Paul loved them. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul said that, like a mother nursing her child, he shared, “not only the gospel of God” with them, but also his life because they had become so precious to him (1 Thess. 1:7-8). Verbal instruction must be accompanied by loving nurture. This nurture offers the child a tangible, positive example of the instruction since the instruction should aid the child in loving God and others better. So if you are speaking truth and living it out consistently in a way that your child can observe, why is your child still failing to follow godly instruction?

    Paul told the Corinthians that he had given his heart to them, but they rejected his instruction and wisdom because they had given their hearts to others. What hindered them was not Paul in this situation. It was their affections that limited them. Verses 14-16 indicate that some of the Corinthians had given their hearts to unbelievers (vs. 14-16). Paul rebuked this choice since Christians have nothing lasting in common with unbelievers. The truth is, we live to please those with whom we have partnered at the heart level. Even when we speak and exemplify God’s truth, our children may ignore us because their hearts are committed to ungodly friends or priorities. Parents must be active in helping them determine with wisdom to whom and to what they give their hearts. This truth applies to adults too. We trust those with whom we have a connection. If we have given our hearts to Christ, it will show because we will listen to Him. If we have given our hearts to an unbelieving person or activity, we will "be limited" in hearing and following Christ.

    So train your children up in the Lord by your speech and actions, and when they continue to rebel, evaluate who holds their hearts. If they are listening to you up to this point, be proactive in making sure that they understand the value of who gets their hearts. It is for good reason that Paul says “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). Conversely, holy friends build up holy children. Help them have the discernment to show lost people love and share Jesus with them, but to give their hearts only to those who make becoming like Christ a daily habit, and start this when they are wee ones.   

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