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The Apostle Paul on Parenting

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  • Dr. James Boyd

    When evaluating how we are doing at work, we first need to ask “what are my primary roles.” Only then can we evaluate our fruit in a meaningful way. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 helps us out in this way. It offers us one of the primary roles as a Christian parent so that we can determine how we are doing.

    Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone. It is clear that you are Christ’s letter,produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God—not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (HCSB)

    Often times, as parents, we need confirmation that we are good parents. If it were left up to what our children said, we would rarely get that confirmation. Paul viewed the church in Corinth as his own spiritual child. He identified having to deal with his children complaining about his parenting skills in chapter 3 verse 1 by saying “Do I have to defend myself again? Do we need letters of recommendation for you or from you?" In other words, "Do I need a reference letter to convince you that I am a good spiritual father that you can trust?" As parents, we have no such reference letters affirming our "trustworthy parent" credentials, and at times our children can even convince us that we do not deserve such validating references. This was Paul's situation too. He did not have with him his apostolic resume. But he claimed to have something even better.

    In verse two, Paul claimed that the Corinthian Church is his letter validating his worth as its spiritual father. Does this mean that our children are to be our letter of recommendation confirming our good parenting? Over the next few weeks, we will find help and encouragement concerning our role as a Christian parent as we take a closer look at the passage. This week, however, we will begin by noticing that Paul said that this letter was written on his "heart." It didn't seem to matter to Paul that this letter was not filed at the Corinthian Baptist Associational office or in his personnel file at FBC, Corinth. All the confirmation that Paul needed about his spiritual parenting credentials was a genuine, God-given peace that he had parented the Corinthians as God would have parented them.

    We do not need the neighbor to validate our good parenting. We do not even need the pastor to affirm it. We need to get before God and determine whether or not God is leading our children through us. Despite what our children choose to do on any given day, can we stand with a peace in our hearts knowing that we have led them, by our words and by example, to treasure Christ most and to be a part of His kingdom's work? If we can, it does not matter how critical others might be of our parenting. If we lack this “letter written on our hearts,” knowing that there is more we can and must be doing as a parent, it still does not matter what others say, especially when their words offer our hearts a temporary, unwarranted peace. 

                   

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