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Articles for Godly Living

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The Apostle Paul on Parenting

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  • Dr. James Boyd

    If teens get their values from parents, and the knowledge of God and His greatness is THE treasure, and if it is the natural frailty of human parents that provides the opportunity for God's great power to be shown, what does this all look like?  2 Cor. 4:7-11 provides the four life-situations that provide the "teachable moments" through which the importance of knowing God's greatness can be clearly communicated.  The first is when parents are "pressured in every way" but remain free to live for Christ in every choice.

    Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary powerA)" data-cr="#cen-HCSB-28866A"> may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of JesusB)" data-cr="#cen-HCSB-28869B"> in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who live are always given over to deathC)" data-cr="#cen-HCSB-28870C"> because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (HCSB)


    The second situation is one in which parents are "perplexed."  The Greek word here indicates the condition of being "at a loss," "puzzled," or "at wits end."  The same word was used to describe Herod when he listened to John and was convicted of his sin, but was at a loss for how to respond.  It also described the women who went to prepare Jesus' body, but found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.  It described Paul when he rebuked the Galatians for allowing themselves to be enslaved again to "things that are not God."  Paul wanted to be able to use a more gentle tone with them, but he "did not know what to do with them." 

    Parents often feel this way, pulling out their hair, crying out "What should I do?"  Paul's response is to affirm that this is the very type of situation in which God gets to flex his "extraordinary power."  If God is the most powerful influence in the universe, it would be cruel of Him to keep it to Himself, and it would be most loving to reveal it.  If God's power is best revealed in those times when parents are “at a loss" concerning what they should do, then great significance is given to those times of being "at wits end."  The greatest thing parents can show their children is that when the path is obscured, God alone is trustworthy to shed light on the path by His Word.  Parents are not supposed to teach that they should have all the answers.  They should, instead, teach that God is trustworthy and that His ways are best. 

    How is it that parents can be "at a complete loss," yet not "despair" or "lose all hope" as 2 Cor. 4:8 states?  2 cor. 1:8 offers the answer.  When Paul tells of how he despaired of life itself, he goes on to say how he then remembered that he did not trust in himself, but in God "who raises the dead."  Knowing God's power when the path is hidden begins with trusting that God, in His extraordinary life giving power, is perfectly sufficient.  This is the very truth that children need to see.

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