Family: Family life is feedback

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Throughout Proverbs, we learn that those who ask for and receive God’s wisdom are given direction through life, children and parents alike would avoid the ever-present pitfalls that can ruin lives. We also learn that “desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov 19:2). In other words, the impulsive person is the one who acts before he thinks, who doesn’t plan and who doesn’t respond to the feedback his actions provide.  The aim here is to address how a family can understand the way forward and what it takes to walk in the ways of God.

Feedback

Children have a way of providing immediate feedback and this is not something which we will always immediately accept. It’s true that other factors must be counted, the obvious would be indwelling sin in the parents’ life and in the lives of their children, but this doesn’t rule out the other factors as if they contribute nothing or have no influence. If we address this issue from a different point of view, such as considering what we would do if a child had a reaction to something they ate, we would try and figure out what it was that caused the reaction and then make sure we don’t feed it to them again. This is a simple step of an investigation, find out what caused the reaction, so that with the best of our abilities we can make sure it won’t happen again. The same step can be made with other things, the reaction a child can have when watching too much TV, or constantly going to bed too late, or playing on the computer for too long, all these activities and more give feedback and parents will need to step in and make the necessary changes.

When it comes to addressing the issue, like how much TV a child watches or how much time they spend on the computer. Parents can simply limit the amount of time that there children can spend doing those things, however, when it comes to thinking through other influences that children are exposed to, we must consider the influence that parents will have on their children. Parents who desire their children’s obedience will model this for their children by their own obedience to God, but in order to understand this fully we must answer the question of why we desire the obedience of our children in the first place, why does God desire our obedience. Since God is in need of nothing, He does not desire our obedience to make His life easier, yet many parents can desire the obedience of their children to make their lives easier. The moment we question, why as parents we desire the obedience of our children we will hopefully see whether or not we are simply seeking to be served with good behaviour or that we are serving them by encouraging in them what God desires and which will enable them to walk with God.

Parents who desire to lead by example, teach, demonstrate and respond to their children in a way better than they currently do and see the results that the word of God speaks about, then they must have the accompanying knowledge that the word of God provides. If this doesn’t happen, then parents may implement a series of changes that do not have a biblical foundation and therefore this false standard will not produce the results that we expect that they will. When parents observe what is happening and see something different than what they expected to see, this is feedback on what influence the parent is having over their children, which may be compared against all the other influences that shape both parents and children alike.

Sacrifice and commitments

Parents who seek to bless their children will make many sacrifices over many years for this to happen. As this happens the parent is aware of the warning Jesus gave about practicing our righteousness so that others could see what we are doing (Matt 6:1-4). It was the elder brother who said to his father “Look, these many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29). Granted, this verse is not addressing the issue of sacrifice but it is addressing the motive behind why we do what we do for others in the family, are we serving others or seeking a reward for ourselves of some kind.

When Christ gave His life for us, He did so to accomplish salvation and God gave His son because He so loved the world. The sacrifices parents make are made because they love God and the ones for whom the sacrifice is made. They also seek to accomplish through sacrifice that which would not be accomplished if the sacrifice was not made. For example, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, meaning that husbands are commanded to love their wives in a self-sacrificing manner (Eph 5:25), God demands this of the husband so that his wife would be blessed in the marriage.

As the family lives in consideration of each other properly understood, they will make sacrifices for each other throughout their lives. However, the parent who thinks that the time they loose by having children is a sacrifice of their freedom and the fulfillment of their other desires is selfish. Being a parent and taking responsibility is not a sacrifice it is simply fulfilling the will of God, which will mean that we will need to live in a self-sacrificial manner to do this.

Desire and knowledge

Desire without knowledge is like good intentions without actions and sometimes parents will need to address their desires and sometimes they will need to address their lack of knowledge. It’s possible for parents to be defensive and reluctant to change when all they see is that their desire is right before God, but being instructed in the knowledge we need, in order to do things differently doesn’t question a parents desire, only their actions or inaction. What we learn from the book of proverbs is that feedback can sometimes take years to present itself and if we were to rely on feedback alone then there would be many decisions made and resulting consequences that have already occurred and cannot be reversed. This is why we need the knowledge that proverbs speaks about.

The knowledge which God provides teaches us that what we sow we will reap, good and bad, and what we fail to sow we will not reap. The Christian who grows in the knowledge of God and His word, in wisdom and faith, is the one who will invest today for tomorrow, this is why parents make the sacrifices they do for their children. They are investing, sowing and seeking a harvest and the knowledge of God provides the seed which is to be sown in our own lives and in the lives of children.

 

 

 

 

 

By Daniel Ralph

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