One thing (of a bazillion) continually on my mind, is the fruit of the Spirit, and how I will be measured by my fruit. As a Christian parent, one of my top priorities is to have my family complete in Heaven. I want all of my children there with me one day. I therefore put intense pressure on myself to ground my children solidly in the Word, in faith, and in producing fruit. Reading those words in Galatians again this morning, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Gal 5:22-23) gave me pause.
Parenting the Fruit of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit.
Not the fruit of the mother.
Not the fruit of the parent.
The fruit of the Spirit.
My focus has been set entirely on how I can mold and form my children to be like-minded as I am. Think the way I think. Believe the way I believe. Act the way I act. (Only when I act appropriately, though. I don’t want them picking up my bad habits…) Have I been completely off in this approach? (The answer is: yep.)
I do think it is important, and there is immeasurable value in leading by example. Not just for those we are leading, but for holding ourselves accountable. We of course need to set, and then follow our own, examples for our children. How to be loving, how to be patient, how to be kind, living in faith – when our children see us modeling these (and going beyond simply speaking about them) – it impacts them in a powerful way. However, forcing them to do the same is not what we are called to do.
When I was young and knew it all (tongue-in-cheek), and when I thought I knew what the Bible was saying without ever reading it, I assumed being fruitful, and producing fruit of the Spirit, meant converting people to follow Christ. If we could show one person how Jesus could save their soul, and they repented and claimed His power and mercies in their life, we were fruitful. Lo and behold, while that’s wonderful, it’s not what the Bible proclaims as fruit.
Funny how the fruit of the Spirit has everything to do with God’s work in ME, and not my work in converting other people. You know what? Looking at that list depicted in scripture, there is no way, no way, I can model those on my own. Yet here I am trying to take over and show my children how its done. The fruit of the Spirit. Not of myself. Not of the mother. The Spirit.
In order to model the fruit of the Spirit, I need to first allow the Spirit to live in me, and cultivate my heart. Work through me, guide me, lead me. I need to let the Spirit do the Spirit’s work. That said, I need to allow the same in my children. I need to pray over them daily, and love them to the Lord – not force upon them proper behaviors that merely mimic fruitfulness. Bearing fruit is a matter of the Spirit at work in the heart, not proof of trained actions due to simply following orders.
As a mother, I’m constantly praying for my children, for how I can be a better mother to them, how I can lead them to assured salvation. The fact of the matter is, I can’t do it. Not of my sole power. I can let the Spirit bear fruit within me, then I can pray my children allow the same in their own lives. If I am modeling, rather than forcing, work of the Spirit, they will see it. They will be impacted by it. They will desire the Lord’s work in their life. If I repeat verbal instruction to them in the hopes it will off-set worldly temptations, failures, and set-backs, however, there will be no fruit of any kind. I am not my children’s Holy Spirit. I am their mother. I am a child of God, as are they.
I need to let the Lord do the Lord’s work – and that includes His work in my own “mother’s-heart”. Thank God He’s God and I don’t have to be. Not even for my children.
Do you struggle with parenting the fruit of the spirit?
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