Parenting the Beatitudes
by Shauna Wallace
Have you ever tried to shrink your children’s world so the devil can’t gain access to their hearts? I have and sometimes still do. Here’s how I reason with myself: “If I can just control what they watch, encounter or hear and with whom they come into contact, then maybe they won’t stray!” I just want to reach their hearts so they will desire Jesus! But the harder I try, the more desperate I become and the more hopeless the pursuit.
I certainly have a responsibility to put boundaries in place to protect them, even from themselves.
I have a responsibility to…
teach and train them in the ways of the Lord, and to discipline them when they disobey. But the older they get, it’s literally impossible to apply a do or don’t to every potential scenario in an attempt to control their salvation or choices. As technology, smart phones and other electronic devices bring the devil’s playground into the palms of their hands, the prospect of his access to them becomes downright frightening, and it becomes harder and harder to control in the natural.
The truth is, it is impossible for us. We cannot contain the widening, dangerous world that increasingly encroaches on our children’s hearts, and more so as they grow up and gain independence as adults. We’ll drive ourselves and them crazy! The more we try, the more we’ll be relying on ourselves and not the saving grace of Jesus Christ and HIS ability to change their hearts so that they don’t desire what the world dangles before them. That’s the key, right?
Here’s the good news: what is impossible for man is possible with God (Matthew 19:26)!!!
While we can’t change our kids’ hearts (God must do that), we can address matters of the heart with the truths God provides in scripture. His word is alive and active and able to do the work that needs to be done in all our hearts.
Out of a heart that’s right before the Lord will flow right decisions. When God changes our children’s hearts, their changed hearts go everywhere with them and into every circumstance and choice.
One day as I was reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which starts in Matthew chapter five, the Holy Spirit showed me that the beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12 provide a framework for parenting our children’s hearts. He spoke to my heart: “Let this be your attitude and teach these heart attitudes to your children.”
Each beatitude starts with a promise: happiness! And each one contains a condition. Meet God’s condition, enjoy the promise. It’s not a formula; it’s God’s kingdom principles at work here on earth, not in the sense of works earning salvation or God’s favor, but in the sense that obedience to His ways always results in His blessings.
So as we parent, let these Be our Attitudes so that we can teach these attitudes to our kids!
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We are happy when we are destitute, powerless and needy – begging for Jesus because we know we are hopeless without Him! Because we know the folly of pride and self-reliance, we turn to Jesus to rule and reign in our hearts and lives as He rules and reigns in heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
We must be careful not to harden our hearts or let our love grow cold, especially as lawlessness abounds each day closer to the end of the age (Matthew 24:12). It is the broken heart receives comfort; the Lord draws those who mourn to His side to exhort, comfort, console, strengthen and encourage them.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
This is to be mild and gentle in spirit. Not weak in the world’s sense of a wimp, but gentle in God’s sense of quiet power! The Greek word for meek is praÿs (interesting, right?), which is used two other times in scripture. In Matthew 21:5, it describes King Jesus as He enters Jerusalem “lowly, and sitting on a donkey”! There is none more mighty than He, yet He is meek! In 1 Peter 3:4, it is used to refer to the “the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
When we eagerly seek and crave the things by which our “soul is refreshed, supported and strengthened,”[i] we are guaranteed satisfaction. In desiring righteousness, we are hungering after “integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting,”[ii] and we are guaranteed that the Lord will satisfy us.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
To be merciful is to be one who has mercy on others – even if they deserve the opposite! It’s to help those who need help, even if their bad decisions landed them in their needy place. Even if they’ve hurt you and you don’t feel like being merciful. As James 2:13 warns, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” I don’t know about you, but even when I don’t deserve mercy, I sure want it! And I definitely don’t deserve the mercy the Lord has shown me, so I am in no place to deny mercy to anyone else.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
A pure heart is both received and developed. At the moment of salvation, the blood of Jesus cleanses us of sin and the price is paid for our guilt. We have a heart “free of corrupt desire, from sin and guilt.”[iii] As we follow Him, we begin a life-long relationship in which He leads us in setting aside our corrupt desires to pursue what the Father desires. Our faith is tested by fire (1 Peter 1:7), and the Lord prunes us as a vine so we can be fruitful for Him (John 15:2). It is the pure and undivided heart that sees God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
To be a peacemaker is two-fold: 1) sharing the gospel of peace, which is the peace Christ offers when He forgives our sins and reconciles us to God, and 2) seeking reconciliation between people. Where there is sin and conflict, the peacemaker seeks to make things right before God, for themselves and between others, modeling and encouraging forgiveness, because of the forgiveness Jesus bought for us when He shed His blood on the cross. As peacemakers, we will be called sons of God, because we bear the name of Jesus and look like Him in the way we act.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In the Greek, the word for persecuted embodies pursuit, both in the sense of being pursued and what we pursue. As we pursue what is right in the eyes of God and what puts us in right standing before Him, we will be pursued by those who hate Jesus and hate Jesus in us. To pursue righteousness is to have an eternal focus that dictates our earthly decisions, knowing that seeking God and His kingdom is the only worthy pursuit here one earth. Persecution will threaten that which vies for our affections here on earth; the things of this world must lose their appeal in order to endure persecution.
As parents, we must pursue God’s blessings ourselves so His realness and the realness of His blessings are displayed and seen as real to our children. The devil is all too ready to make himself real to our kids. If God’s realness isn’t more than the devil’s, the devil’s realness will become their reality more than God’s.
At some point, my kids’ decisions must come from their own convictions. While the Holy Spirit is the only one who has access to their hearts, it’s on me and James to obey Him in a life of surrender through which He demonstrates His realness, power and love as He reaches their hearts with His grace.
An inspirational writer, teacher, and speaker, Shauna Wallace burns with passion to see women experience the fullness of God’s grace, faithfulness, peace, joy, protection, and provision by becoming wholly His. Finding hope and life in God’s word motivates her to help other women discover God’s power to transform lives.
Transparent and real, she opens her life and heart to encourage others. She and her husband, James, serve their church, community, and clients of their custom home building business. As a homeschooling stay-at-home mother of four, Shauna treasures the privilege of being James’ helpmate and training her children in the ways of the Lord. Check Out Shauna’s Blog Here!
[i] “Greek Lexicon :: G1372 (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 9 Jan, 2016. <http://www.blueletterbible.orghttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm>.
[ii] “Greek Lexicon :: G1343 (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 9 Jan, 2016. <http://www.blueletterbible.orghttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm>.
[iii] “Greek Lexicon :: G2513 (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 14 Jan, 2016. <http://www.blueletterbible.orghttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm>.