Continued from 2.7.09 posting, Job’s Friends Part 3.

We’ve been told that we are too easy on our kids, too hard on them, too watchful and that we need to watch them closer. We’ve been told we are too controlling by some but are blamed when they do something wrong when they’re with others. We’ve been told we need to give them room to breathe, that we have to let them have some freedom to make their own decisions, but when they make their own decisions and mess up, it’s our fault. We’ve been told to not use the Bible for a “punishment” like assigning verses to write out or memorize, and we’ve been told it should be used for correction. We’ve been told we’re wrong for treating them all as individuals, for a parent should always treat all their kids the same.  Yet, the same people were nice to some of our kids and rejected others.  We’ve been told by some people that they admire what we’ve done for the Lord in adopting so many tough kids and the same day we were told by someone else that we should never be in the ministry with the kind of kids we adopted because we were such a bad example of a ministry family.  It seems we are to be a perfect family in the eyes of church members, someone they can all look up to – but according to the church members who we were closest to, the ones who loved our family, we were the perfect example of a family who loved others with Christ’s love – especially the children that were hard to love.

We’ve been told that as Christians we should reach out to those in the world and offer Christ as the solution, to be active in our community and disciple and care for the poor. But then we are told out of the same mouth that we should have never adopted these “types of children” if we wanted to be in full-time ministry because they are trouble makers and make us look bad. We are told to be forgiving and compassionate but then hear from the same person how rotten one or more of our kids are and how they deserve to pay for what they’ve done. My kids have been lied to, put down, criticized, verbally abused, held to a higher standard than others, called names, and singled out and made an example. Yet, the same people walk around ignoring their own kids’ bad behavior and lift them up as greater than sliced bread. Those that were hardest on our kids have a past of being kind and forgiving to their own. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right to me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people just don’t understand. They haven’t lived the life we have, nor do they love our kids like we do. Even though my children are terrible sinners, God loves them and so do I. Should they pay for their mistakes? Should they suffer because of bad decisions? Yes and no. Yes, sin is awful and we must repent and go to God and others to make it right. But we also need to remember that God at one time picked US up out of the mirey clay and set US on a rock. We weren’t such a great bargain either. Yet, He loves us and manages our life so that He can be glorified and also seeks our good at the same time. As parents, we have consistently brought discipline into our kids’ life to teach them to do right, but we never should bring discipline into their life to hurt them, to show who’s boss or to make them “pay.” We ought to always operate in a way that pushes them toward the Savior, not toward anger and bitterness.

I’ve recently been in a situation where I now can understand the Scripture that tells a us not to punish in a way that creates bitterness. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  Eph. 6:4  Many of our children came into our home with bitterness, and others developed it over time through circumstances we couldn’t control. It is our job, even if they sin in their bitterness, to not cause them reason to embrace it even more than they have already. These are kids. They’ve been hurt by adults in their life. They didn’t choose it. They didn’t deserve it, yet it happened. Let’s not make it worse by confirming to them that all adults are cruel and not to be trusted. We have an excellent opportunity to show these kids that God really does love and that He can love them through us.

Mt 18:23 “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”  to be continued…