I have wanted- for some time now- to try to write one post on what being a gentle Christian Momma means for me. Many have argued that the only ‘biblical’ way to raise children is to strike them as punishment for failing. But the more I search my Bible, and the more I study the way Jesus treated people, the more I have been convicted that MY OWN behavior should be my focus. Since my focus as a believer should be on Christ, He is my example for how to behave as a parent- and IF My focus is on him, I will raise my children in a way that honors Him.
SO how should a parent act? Well, let’s start with the Fruits of the Spirit, shall we?
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Most of those are both self-explanatory AND open to interpretation. But let’s look up ‘forbearance’ shall we? My NIV Bible says patience… this is illuminating! It appears that forbearance is the practice of delaying required repayments, punishments and other things ‘due’ the person who is exercising ‘forbearance’. In other words, DELAYING my decision (rather than punish swiftly) over what to do when my child misbehaves, makes a mistake, misses the mark, IS in fact the Biblical way to discipline… hrm… That’s just ONE of the fruits, but IF I show that fruit… It changes the way I parent.
Oooh! Self Control is another gem in this collection! After all, my parents and many other Christians believe that the only way children will ever develop self control is to deny them something they want badly while simultaneously requiring them to BE HAPPY about it. Hogwash. What if a child has parents who demonstrate self control and forbearance? What will they learn then? If Self Control is really a Fruit of striving towards Christ-likeness, then it cannot be taught– it can only be modeled.
Anybody getting where I’m going with this? :p Look at the Qualities of Love in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Ask yourself if you model those to your child. (I know I desperately need help in that area!) Look at ANY of the examples Christ set for us when he dealt with hurting, sinning, desperate people. And treat your children like he treated them. He Loved them first. Then he healed them, and forgave their sins. Then he asked them to stop sinning. Notice he never ever told any of them that they deserved what they got? Notice he healed them BEFORE he asked them to stop sinning? He didn’t say to any of them, ‘oh, by the way, you’ll have to suffer an additional day for every year of your life you lived in sin’; nor did he say, ‘I will forgive you and heal you IF you stop’. He simply healed them, forgave them, and instructed them in what was right.
So when I ask myself if, as a parent and a wife, I am acting as Christ would act, I don’t need to look very far. He Loved me so much that He died rather than require me to face the punishment I deserved. Being a Gentle, Christian parent is SO much more than simply not spanking. What it is for me is growing closer and closer to Christ, until my love for my children matches His love for me.