Occasionally, my husband and I feel the need to have a little heart-to-heart with our children. We find it important to share our thoughts, concerns and frustrations with them, to get feedback, understanding... and to pray as a family.
Last week, we spent a good couple of hours talking about the way we treat each other in our home, as followers of Jesus. Sometimes, especially amongst two of our children, there are some strong feelings, hurtful words and ugly actions. We have decided that rather than shrugging it off as just being a phase, accepting that teasing is normal, that sibling rivalry is a rite of passage- we are going to do our utmost to diffuse ugliness with loveliness. To nurture and love and encourage our children to choose kindness rather than anger, peace rather than strife.
And so, I regularly tell my children to make peace. The idea for this came from Jesus, when he taught the beatitudes.
Matthew 5:1-12 (English Standard Version)
The Sermon on the Mount
1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I have always known these were important principles, but, well... I don't know. I guess somewhere in my mind I kind of thought they were extra blessings and they were optional. That they don't all happen to every Christian. Not sure where I got that idea really, but it was obliterated by something my husband said to our children.
As we were finishing up our family talk, I quoted some words from these verses, as encouragement to be peacemakers, to be righteous. Trever took things one step further when he opened up his Bible, and told the children that although it was not written that way, he wanted them to see the negative side rather than the positive. He read them the beatitudes in reverse.
Doomed are those who are not poor in spirit, for theirs will not be the kingdom of God.
Doomed are those who do not mourn, for they will not be comforted.
Doomed are they who are not meek, for they will never inherit the earth.
Doomed are they who do not hunger or theirs after righteousness, for they will never be satisfied.
Doomed are those who do not show mercy, for they will not be shown mercy.
Doomed are they who are not pure in heart, for they will not see God.
Doomed are they who are not peacemakers, for they will not be called the sons of God.
Doomed are they who are never persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs will not be the kingdom of heaven.
Doomed are you when others do not revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. You have nothing to be glad about, for you have no reward in heaven, for you are nothing like the persecuted prophets who were before you.
I sat, stunned, and grappled with these words. Harsh? Yes. But true. I had to admit there are many other passages in scripture where these same principles were taught. The sheep and the goats. The parable of the unforgiving servant. Jesus warned that not every one who called Him their Lord would enter heaven, but only those who do the will of His Father in heaven. That only the one who actually puts His words into practice is likened to the wise man, who built a house on a rock, not sinking sand.
Jesus didn't give optional commands.
This sits heavy in my lap, as I look to follow Him, and to guide my children in the way...
And you know what? I am finding it is actually through living this all out, that my prayers to know God, and not just about Him, are truly being answered.
Walk with us?