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I Don't Want To Teach My Kids To Be Loving

I don't want to teach my kids to be loving....
or joyful, or peaceful, or patient, or kind, or good,  or faithful, or gentle,  or to have self control.

Let me explain.
Kyle and I have been convicted about doing a better job of specifically teaching and training our kids in the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22).
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. Against such things there is no law.”
The more I think through this scripture, the more ideas I roll around about this concept, one thought keeps rising to the surface…
“But I (a 29, almost 30, year old adult) am not always loving. I’m not always kind. Or good. Or faithful, etc….
JESUS IN ME is loving. He IS joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-control.” He IS all of those things.
I don’t want to teach my kids to BE loving because I want to teach my kids to ask Jesus for more love so that they CAN be loving.
I want to train them in such a way to know that these things are not something they can conjure up on their own. The well of self is a shallow well that dries up QUICKLY, but the well of Jesus is bottom-less and life-giving!  I want my kids to learn to bypass the “self-well” altogether and go straight for the well of living water.
It’s called the “Fruit of the SPIRIT” because when we have the Spirit in us it will produce His fruit.  Hence, we need the Spirit to produce this fruit in us.
The phrase at the end of this passage is often overlooked … “against such there is no law.” To me this means that no law can stand against these things, but also that the law can’t produce these things. Train up a child in the way he should go? Absolutely. And yes, discipline is important to teach that there are negative consequences to our behavior choices. But I think we have to be very careful to not lean on rules to producefruit and the way we should train our children to go is to connect to the source of the fruit. Rules can punish disobedience, and there is a need for that, but they cannot MAKE someone more loving, joyful, etc.. They can make people compliant but they are not what produces transformation. I don’t want to teach my kids that they can behave their way into joy.  I want to teach them to connect to the source of joy, and the joy will take care of itself.
So why teach the Fruit of the Spirit at all? Why not just wait and watch for the Lord to produce this in them?
–  Because I want them to know what to do and where to go when they need this fruit and don’t have it.
All the time, I find myself in situations where I find the fruit difficult. The need to be more loving or joyful or gentle. I’ve been a Believer for 24 years. I believe I have the Spirit in me. So why isn’t this fruit just in me always easy to produce? I really think the answer to that is because the Lord WANTS ME TO COME TO HIM AND ASK HIM FOR IT. He wants me to lean on him for these things. He wants me to draw from his bottom-less well. Because He IS love ((John 4:8). Because He is the source of patience. He is good. I think the father finds great delight  in us when we ask him for these things. When we admit our weakness and dependence on Him. And he gives us more of these fruits by giving us more of him!
I hear the phrase “I can’t” or “It’s too hard!” all the time from my kids. Instead of responding with my typical “Yes you can or No, it’s not” I want to start saying “You know what Baby, you’re right. You can’t. And it IS too hard. But it is not too hard for Jesus and you need to ask Him for help right now.”  In fact, I want to prompt conversations with them where they will recognize the difficulty because life is going to be hard. It just is. So I don’t want to try and teach them that it’s not going to be hard, but where to go when it inevitably is hard. I want the words “Jesus, Help Me!” to be a regular part of my kids vocabulary.
–  Because I want my kids to recognize the fruit when they see it. Both in themselves and in others. 
Y’all, its GOOD that we can’t produce these things on our own, that we have to go to Jesus. The Gospel shows us that we don’t have to strive for these things. At the end of the day, nothing I can do can make these things happen, but Jesus in me can. There’s so much FREEDOM in that! So when I do see times when I have been loving or kind or faithful or good, I can see Jesus moving and working IN ME. I want to teach my kids what these fruits are because I want them to recognize when the Spirit is at work in them and others.
We (adults and kids) must learn to recognize this growth, because it doesn’t come naturally. The Lord promises that His children have all they need for growth in godliness (which is Jesus, 2 Peter 1). This is an opportunity to thank God for His work in our lives, which is also a mark of growth. Additionally, the fruit of the Spirit is a posture of the heart before it comes out in behavior. You can’t teach that — only Jesus can. All decent parents try to instill love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in their kids. But what makes us different from Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist parents is that we teach our children that they can’t do it on their own — they need Jesus.
This concept and perspective is so different from the norm. What thoughts do you have about this idea? 

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  1. Yes, we cannot produce these fruits on our own; we all need Jesus! Wonderful post, Carrie!

    1. Thanks Martha! I'm finding as much encouragement in this for myself as I am for my kiddos :)

  2. I love this Carrie! I so needed this encouragement and urging to press into Jesus today!

    1. Thanks Heather!!! I feel like I always forget to remember this ;). Praying for reminders for me today too! Love you and miss you!