Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Proverbs 29:11,15,20, and 22 No excuses!

During 22 years of parent conferences it seems like I’ve had countless opportunities to commiserate with parents of strong-willed children! Often these conversations are accompanied with tears of frustration from parents who have no idea what to do. I’m so grateful that God gave me a strong-willed child, so that I can relate!

From the time Emmy was a toddler, I spent countless hours on my knees in tears! Dr. Dobson’s book, The Strong-willed Child, became my constant companion! Emmy and I prayed nightly that God would help her with self-control. She didn’t know exactly what it was, but she knew it had to do with her tantrums, she knew needed it, and she knew that the LORD could provide it.

One of the important lessons for Emmy (and for me) through those years was that it is NOT okay to use the excuse, “Well, I was just born with a bad temper - that’s who I am.” She knew from watching several other family members suffer with the consequences of a bad temper, that she needed supernatural intervention over her natural tendencies.

Several verses in this 29th chapter of Proverbs deal with the need for self-control.

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,

    but a wise man quietly holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11)

The rod and reproof give wisdom,

    but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (v.15)

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?

    There is more hope for a fool than for him. (vs. 20)

A man of wrath stirs up strife,

    and one given to anger causes much transgression. (vs. 22)

I am certain there is a genetic factor involved with temperaments! Just like there is with every other aspect of our personalities and physical bodies. In fact, I’m pretty sure it all goes right back to our progenitors, Adam and Eve! And certainly God knows this about us. Yet, He never gives us an out with sin. He just calls it sin, and Jesus died for ALL of it. The Bible assures us that that sin nature has been dealt with:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We have the same power to live out this new life in us that raised Jesus from the dead! In chapters 6-8 of Romans, Paul writes about this struggle between our flesh (old man) and our spirit (new man). 

Romans 6:14 tells us, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” 

And later he writes, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)

Notice he refers to where we SET our minds. We need to take any area of our lives that lacks self-control to the LORD in pray with repentance and humility, asking for help, but we also need to purposefully set out minds on transformation by reading and meditating on His Word. It changes us from the inside out.

One thing I’ve noticed about strong-willed people. While a strong will can be a weakness (stubbornness), it can also be a strength (firm commitment to values). The strong-willed child is much less likely to be swayed by peer pressure. I love my strong-willed daughter to pieces. But I especially love that she is daily turning that will over to God.  

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