My parents were certainly no Bible scholars. They loved Jesus, took us to church, and taught us to pray, but we weren’t Protestant. We couldn’t recite chapter and verse to you, but at the end of the day, we knew the truth of the triune God, believed in the infallibility of Scripture, and loved God far beyond words, translating that love into actions. My parents held character development in the highest regard. As children and teens, we knew the boundaries without being told, and we knew there would be consequences to our actions.
Part of what my parents showed us was that we could love everyone, but that did not mean we needed to form close bonds with everyone. Whether they purposefully intended to teach us what it meant to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, they succeeded in this area, and this theme still permeates throughout my life today—maybe even more now that I am a parent. I couldn’t help but reflect on their age-old wisdom when John Rosemond spoke at a Straight Talk event this spring. Just as he wrote, “Grandma was right after all.”
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
It’s easy to get caught up in the parenting trap of hyper-grace—not only with our children, but with the other parents we keep in our company. We want to show abounding love and endless grace, but we also need to be clear that we know where we stand and don’t desire certain things in our homes and lives. Like the boundaries we set in place for our marriages and children, God’s Word is not meant to harm us or cause us pain, but to protect us. He is a good, good Father who loves us always but doesn’t always love the choices we make. It is hard work being a parent—and I don’t just mean because of the endless decisions regarding the young hearts we are leading, but because of the tenderness of our own hearts and wanting to “do the right thing.”
I love my neighbors, and I genuinely want them to know they have a God who created them, loves them, and desires for them to spend eternity with Him. I love my children, and I desire the same for them. There is a great balancing act between showing compassion for others and welcoming them into our lives on a deeper level. For example, if you choose to discipline your children and not treat them as co-equals, you are in the minority. Congratulations—it’s often a lonely and difficult place to be. Then again, Jesus was pretty controversial himself and not exactly accepted by the masses. So in that regard you’re in excellent company, but you may need company who reflects your own values rather than detracts and distracts your children from what you are trying to teach.
“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
In this age of feel-good messages, we must not change our parenting style or water down God’s word simply because it makes us or another family feel better when we are around them. We should surround ourselves with like-minded parents who will champion us on to be the most biblically minded stewards of the children we are raising. So what do we do? Do we simply discard those who aren’t like us or cause us to question our methods? Of course not—you need them and they need you to teach, learn, and grow. It does mean we take a thorough evaluation of what matters in our families and the consequences behind who we choose to “do life” with during these formative years. The right choices are not often the easiest, but they are ultimately the best, and God will honor your desire to please Him by keeping company that leads you to be more like Him. Be kind always, be willing to take the first step in forming relationships, but be wise as serpents and innocent as doves when choosing the company you keep.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.” (Psalm 1:1-4).
In His Love,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first daughter in March 2016. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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