She watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I remember when we first started home educating our children we were asked why we chose this option over the public schools system. Many people had their opinions as to why people might do such a (demanding, sometimes lonely, crazy) thing… I asked myself this question on a number of occasions, trust me; it wasn’t all plain sailing!

Many Christians assumed that it was because we didn’t want them to learn about evolution but that really was the least of our worries… Let me explain:

I don’t know when it was exactly that I began to observe other Christian’s parenting, but one thing that I saw consistently was this notion that whiny children are either disciplined harshly or they were pacified with whatever demands they had made! Surely, neither option matches God’s response?

As adults we can be manipulative, discontent and sullen creatures. I think that without godly training and the absence of accountability, even the most lovely people can default to a state of selfishness.

This brings us to the topic of self-pity; I don’t have what I really think I deserve. Whether it is an object, a person or respect… If this attitude is not challenged and defeated in the light of gospel truth it will fester and grow into something ugly, subtle but ugly…

When children are mollycoddled into a sense of self justification (‘I had it first and therefore I am right and he is wrong, so hand back the ball kid!’) I see parents wrestle in despair trying to figure out exactly who is right and who is wrong… I think it is quite clear: when one child has offended another by taking something that doesn’t belong to them it is a training opportunity for BOTH of them, the culprit needs consequences that demonstrates peace and justice followed by God’s amazing grace. This is when the ‘injured’ child enters the scene… Often overlooked or mollycoddled, the injured child also needs to see that this is God’s world and even this situation is about God and not him.

God’s discipline is to reconcile us to Him and in this situation, the desire of the injured child needs to be trained towards reconciliation and not justification-according-to-wee-Billy!

God has a standard for each of us, contentment, sincere gratitude and a desire for His holiness should be paramount in our lives and our children need this to be demonstrated in practical terms day by day. The proverbial ‘shall not eat the bread of idleness’ comes into play here. Eating ‘the bread of idleness’ is self pity!Thinking we deserve something more, or our own time is selfishness.

Self-pity is a sad and destructive path. It drives men to be deceitful, unfaithful and self-seeking. Without a whole-hearted desire for God’s holiness, it is a matter of time, in the heat of a battle, as an injured party we demand our own justification rather than God’s reconciliation.

The way to respond to any challenge is with God-focused eyes, accountable to His good grace and mercy. And as we have received, we will impart.

Shine brightly