Friday, June 24, 2016

Tattletale Siblings

Do you know the seven things God hates? They are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19. According to Proverbs 6, the things God hates are pride, lying, murder, evil thoughts, evil deeds, giving false witness, and sowing discord among brothers.

The last point, sowing discord, really surprised my kids, taking them completely off guard. Did God really detest a person who sows discord among his brothers as much as a murderer? This one hit close to home, because lately the kids have gotten into the habit of "telling" on each other, saying things like, "Look, Paul, Toria is reading your book. She will probably lose the place you marked," or, "Hanna, do you know that Mercy is touching your play-dough?"

Even in families with just two children, one child can sow discord with his sibling by tattling. In going to a parent rather than addressing his brother or sister directly, he is causing a rift in the relationship.

The motivation of the tattler is neither to help the one sibling to do the right thing, nor is it to protect the property of the other, but rather to sow discord, to see the anger flare up in the other's eye. His heart attitude is mercilessness and a desire to look good at someone else's expense.

Reading that God hates a tattler was an eye-opener to my kids. Over the next few days, it was beautiful to watch a real change come over them. Whenever they did fall back into the old habit of tattling, they would often stop themselves in order to please God.

This verse was not just a wake-up-call for my children; it also challenged me to diligently train them. As parents, we play a huge role in what kind of atmosphere pervades the home, by allowing certain behaviors in our children. I had been letting my kids get away with tattling, which created an atmosphere of animosity. Instead, I now encourage them to lovingly correct their sibling rather than tattling on them. I also ask the tattler questions such as, "Was it kind, helpful, or necessary to point this out to others?"

It makes me smile to overhear my son, Daniel, say, "David, Mama says we shouldn't eat anything so close to supper. Let's put the food away before she notices." Daniel's actions have won him a friend, rather than causing a rift in their relationship by tattling. These brothers have grown closer together. I am sure that makes God smile, too.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

All Things

I have a confession to make: I am absolutely horrible at remembering people's faces.  This has gotten me into trouble more than once. A few years ago I spent a week with my friend Susie in North Carolina. On Sunday we attended church together. That same evening a surprise visitor stopped by to see Susie's family. I readily extended my hand to greet him. "You look familiar," I noted, "have we met before?"
"I can tell my sermon from this morning did not leave a great impression on you!" her pastor replied. Talk about embarrassing!

Another time I enthusiastically approached an unfamiliar-looking lady at my home church. Desiring to make her feel welcome, I asked whether this was her first visit. "You have already greeted me two other times in this way," she retorted huskily. I am relieved that she continued to come to our church in spite of my poor recognition skills.

Well, yesterday it happened again. During an end-of-year school program I paid close attention to all the teachers' mannerisms and words in order to ascertain who I would prefer to have as a teacher for my daughter, Toria, during the next school year. One teacher stood out as an extremely sweet lady, whom her pupils hugged often and who mentioned teaching Vacation Bible School. Unfortunately, her name was never mentioned, and, going by my visual memory of her face, I ended up requesting a similar-looking teacher, whom I knew nothing about.

That night I lay awake in bed, upset about this mishap. "What if my daughter gets a terrible teacher and it is all my fault?" I worried. As I was pleading for God to redeem this situation, He spoke to me comfortingly, "Child, this is what I had planned all along. Toria is exactly where I want her to be. Remember, I am sovereign."

There is peace in knowing that in all things, especially in our weaknesses and limitations, God works for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). His counsel shall stand, and He will accomplish all His purpose (Isaiah 46:10). It cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). For He will complete what he appoints for us (Job 23:14).

Our personal limitations serve as a constant reminder that we are completely dependent upon God. Even as we strive to serve Him to the best of out abilities, we can rest in the fact that His grace is sufficient for us; for God's power is made perfect in weakness (2. Cor 12:9).