DOES IT BEAR GOOD FRUIT?
Our son, Jacob attends a local Christian School. We are thankful for the opportunity that he gets each day to learn the Word of God, to sing His praises, and to develop Christian character under solid Christian leadership. However, we’ve begun to appreciate just as much the opportunities he gets each day to make unpopular choices, to say no when warranted, and to even pray and believe for things outside of the paradigms of those around him. While many Christians choose to send their children to a Christian school so that they can be protected from temptations and be among people that do not contest their own beliefs, we have learned that even this is not realistic or always edifying.
As it turns out, within Christianity, there are varying doctrines, belief systems, denominations, groups, teachings, etc—even sometimes within the same groups. While the foundation and Author of our faith is the same, our revelation and convictions on that truth can vary. So, as much as we would like to protect our child from any confusion or temptation, no matter what environment you place your child in, there is room—what I like to now call opportunity—for testing.
Every child is different, and so you must learn to discern what is needed to lead your children and your home based on how Holy Spirit is leading you, through His Word and His Spirit. For our son, most things tend to be either black or white. While he is growing in this area, he inherently has deep convictions about right and wrong, and so he requires clear, convicted direction and often explanation of the choices we are making as a family. While not all things in the world (and even in our Christian circles) are always clearly defined, we have had to learn how to best help him to navigate decisions. While teaching our son to know and love God’s Word, who God is and who we are to Him, to understand Godly character, to love truth, and to spend time with God are all pieces to the puzzle; we have found another key found in God’s Word to teach our son how to listen to his discernment when things are not as clear.
“You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.” Matthew 7:16-17 (HCSB).
In this very important biblical principle, Jesus is teaching His followers how to discern when things aren’t quite so clear. Things can often seem harmless, or even “good,” but the questions we ask ourselves is, “Is it Godly?” “Is it going to produce good, Kingdom fruit in my life (or has it already)?” “Does it glorify God?” We have found when we discern things as parents that aren’t quite so black and white, and that need a little more explanation for our child to understand why we are making the decisions we are making, that if we ask some of these questions it helps to make the decision forward more clear. All guilt from not having clear print of why we are choosing what we are choosing (or guilt from being different) melts away in the midst of these questions. After all, Jesus came to give us a deeper understanding in our hearts, not just our heads, of His ways. So, even when the law is not so clearly defined, our heart bears witness to the leading of His Spirit, and then our consciences are not violated. This doesn’t mean that our decisions will forever stay the same on many of these issues, but they will be led by God’s Spirit according to the level of understanding we have and our current circumstances. And, while this may in some ways set us apart from even our Christian brothers and sisters, even our son can learn at this early age to give grace to one another in our journey, as each of us are led by God’s Spirit.
We can’t even begin to be led by God’s Spirit and to discern what is good for us to choose without a strong foundation on God’s Word, and truly knowing who He is. Spend time with your child not just reading the stories in the Bible but beginning to stand on biblical Truth and apply it to your everyday life. Check out these Wall Scriptures that you can begin to use to speak the Word of God over your child and apply it to them personally.
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