Thursday, June 23, 2016

Planting, Harvesting, Parenting, and the Perils of Social Media: Galatians 6:1-10 NLT

Today's section of Galatians is entitled "We Harvest What We Plant." Let's start at the beginning:

"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." (Galatians 6:1-3)

I love Paul's straight-to-the-point attitude here. He is honest always. Honesty- true and complete honesty spoken in love- is so rare these days. Lying has become so commonplace. But this post isn't actually about that. In the interest of staying on track, I love specifically that Paul calls us to help one another. This applies to every single relationship we have- church members, family, friends, children, strangers...everyone! You are not too important, no matter who you are, to help someone who needs helping. Who can you help in your life today?

I know in my life, the most obvious people I should be helping every single day are my children. They are all in different places in their lives and need different kinds of help (2 teenagers and 2 elementary aged). It's my God-given job to help them in the ways they need helping. This does not mean enabling them by doing everything for them. No, it means guiding them toward the right paths and teaching them how to embrace the fruits of the spirit in their own lives for their own selves. It's my aim to raise children into adults who love God and love others so much that they refuse to leave the world the way they found it. I want them to change the world as much as they can! I want the world to be a better place for having had my children in it. And that brings us to the next set of verses:

"Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them." (Galatians 6:4-6)

As a parent in the social media age, it's so easy to compare. Did I breastfeed long enough? Will I be judged for my bottle feeding choices? Are shoes necessary at the age of 6 months? What about at age 1? Are my kids involved in enough activities? Preschool or no? Homeschooling, public schooling, or private schooling? The list is endless and we all compare, compare, compare, judge, judge, judge. Enough is enough! Paul is warning us all in these verses to knock it off, to pay attention to our own work (in this case, our own family).

Don't worry about what everyone else is doing in their families. I heard a sermon once about comparing ourselves to others. We have a tendency to compare our entire movie with others' highlight reels. You can't know everything going on in someone else's life so it's not fair to compare your entire life to mere pieces of another person's, especially on social media. Social media is designed to highlight only the best. Those amazing family pictures? Think about how many bad ones there were before that perfect one or the fight they may have been having just before everyone smiled and said, "cheese!" We actually have a few of these from vacation over the years! Crying family members and grumpy kids immortalized in a picture with a forced smile. It's frustrating in the moment, but makes for a great story later on.

And now finally, these verses:

" Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)

These verses talk to me about the kind of fruit we will bear from our children. If we plant bitterness and impatience in our kids by modeling that for them day in and day out, they will likely grow up to be bitter and impatient in their own lives. If we give them every blessed thing they ever ask for and hand them a trophy every time they participate in something, guess what they'll grow up thinking? That they deserve and are entitled to whatever they want in life.

If we want children that grow up loving God and trying with all of their might to possess solid fruits of the spirit like we talked about yesterday (remember, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, love, joy, peace, patience, self-control), we- as their parents- are going to have to do our best to demonstrate those qualities. Our attitudes, our words, our actions- they all contribute to the planting process in our children.

Will we mess this up? Yes! Have we likely already modeled behaviors that we would prefer not to see in our kids? Absolutely! Does Jesus love us anyway and willingly give us a second, third, fourth, millionth chance? Definitely. If you've been modeling fruit that isn't good for your family, start working on turning it around today. I myself have been trying to work specifically on gentleness in my own life. Because I value honesty and faithfulness so very much, I am trying to work on a way to speak the truth in gentleness and that is no easy task. But I know it has extreme value and I want to model it the best that I can for my family so that hopefully, they can see the value too. And while you're at it, tell your family what you're working on! Not only is it a great way to demonstrate trust and change for God, but you're giving yourself some accountability by speaking it aloud.

If you didn't come up with a fruit to work on yesterday, I beg you to come up with one today. If not just for you, then for others in your life- kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends. We learn and grow from each other every day. So what are you going to talk to God about working on?  

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