Friday, July 21, 2006

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Today, I was reading Oswald Chambers' daily devotional from "My Utmost for His Highest," and it gives a picture not only of how to actually apply his collection's title, but also how I am to be toward my children.

Chambers instructs us not to see Jesus primarily as Teacher because what He teaches is unattainable. If we look at Him as only "fixing" our ignorance by downloading the way we should act, and then go try to do it in our own strength, we will fail. We must realize that the teaching is intended to lead us to despair of our own ability to perform it. Our sin-rent bodies are incapable of pleasing God, even if we know how to. When we try to do it on our own, we will inevitably break on some obstacle. Then, we may come to Him as paupers, empty-handed, and receive strength and ability to perform what He teaches. As Chambers says:

But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.

This is what Jesus rebukes about in Matthew 23:4. He comes to us and reverses the hypocritical attitude of "do as I say, not as I do" and tells us, when it comes to to obeying the scribe and Pharisees (those who "sit in Moses' seat") we should only do as they say and not as as they do. What they "do" is nothing to help.

My pastor has hermeneutical principle (rule for interpreting Scripture) that he names after himself and encourages people to use when reading the Bible. It goes like this: "When you see someone doing something really stupid in the Bible, do not think, 'How could they be so stupid?' Rather, ask yourself the question, 'How am I this stupid?'"

Here is where we should use that principle as fathers.

Jesus told the multitude and his disciples not to act like the scribes and Pharisees. "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." When training our children, we must not pile burden after burden on them, instructing them to godliness, but doing nothing to help them achieve it. We paint a very ugly picture of our Father in heaven, when we simply download Scripture, precept-upon-precept, "heavy burdens, hard to bear," into our children's heads, admonishing them without nurturing (training) them (Eph. 6:4).

We must not act that way toward them. When we give them instructions, we must also help them do it. This is what training is; showing how to do it. And not in the classic medical way: "watch one, do one, teach one." We need to continue to help until they have so accomplished the task that they begin helping us. That's when we know they don't need our help to accomplish it anymore.

Oh, and by the way, we can't even do that. Again, Jesus is the only Source that can work in us to accomplish this task. And not only do we need to draw from that Source when training our children, but must also point to that Source so they'll know from whence comes our strength.

Only when we trust in Christ alone to help our children trust in Christ alone have we actually trained them to come to Him poor in spirit and give their utmost for His highest!

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