“For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
Earlier in the week, we spoke about the power of a consistent life, even if we speak few words. But God also uses words to impact lives for His glory. Today many parents adopt a passive approach to parenting, especially when they face resistance from their children. Parents fear alienating their children by their words, so they choose to say very little. But such a course will not bring about the desired result.
Paul reminded the Thessalonian readers of his approach during his visit among them. He encouraged, he exhorted, and he charged. Sometimes he applied a band-aid, but at other times he lanced a boil. Each situation required the most suitable words. If they grew discouraged, he comforted and encouraged them. If they lapsed into bad behavior, he charged them to return to God. He provided godly coaching and used a combination of encouragement and warning.
The so-called “positive” approach to parenting may carry a nice enough ring, but it will not produce lasting results. Think of God’s approach to us. Sometimes He lifts us up, but other times He disciplines us (Hebrews 12:5-11). Children left to themselves will bring us shame (Proverbs 29:15). God loves us enough to apply needed correction, and we need to use wisely chosen words to our children.
We should pray for the right words and timing. We should use words in the right spirit, too. Our words should carry an “upward bent.” We should direct our hearers to God. In fact, all family members should exhort one another just as church members should:
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
Most of us recall timely words that led us to change course, or remain on the right course. We appreciated the timely words, though they may not have felt good at the time. The adage, “speak softly and carry a big stick”, may work well for Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy (the origin of the expression), but timely “exhortations” and “charges” carry power, too. While some people might exhort a bit too much, so often it degenerates into nagging; most of us should exhort others more than we do.
“Father, grant me the words to speak that others might hear them as coming from You. Grant me understanding of Your Word so that I can learn truth to share. Instill in me love for my family and the right words that flow from love. I commit my tongue to You with the prayer you will use it to build up, and not destroy.”
Posted on Fri, June 23, 2017
by Diane Hultgren