Friday, August 11, 2006

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness: Part 3

Tolerating sin in our families

Raising a family is hard work, especially in these fast-paced times we live in. Everyone is in a hurry and there seems to be little time left over for building in the lives of our children, our spouses, and our families as a whole. While most parents would aspire to build a strong family, many parents are so spent that they feel they lack the time and energy needed for the task. Many times, it just seems easier to “let things slide” or to ignore relational conflicts hoping that they will just go away. While we may be tempted to coexist with sin, moral failure, and character flaws within our families, love motivates us to confront them and to find ways to deal with them. Ignoring problems in our families always leads to trouble. Here are just two examples from the scriptures.

David had many sons and daughters; among them were his son Amnon and his daughter Tamar. They were both children of David but from different mothers. Amnon “loved” his half-sister Tamar, so he laid a trap for her. He pretended to be sick and when she came to serve him he overpowered her and raped her. After lying with her he despised her more than he had previously “loved” her so he sent her away in humiliation and disgrace. “Now when King David heard of all these matters, he was very angry.” (2 Samuel 13:21) David was angry but he did nothing! Sin and offense had entered the family yet David did nothing to confront or deal with it. For two years this issue festered until finally David’s son, and Tamar’s brother, Absalom took action and killed Amnon. David’s lack of response was partially to blame for Absalom’s act of murder and it sowed the seeds of Absalom’s later rebellion against him and his kingdom.

Saul also had a son, Jonathan. It happed one day that as they were pressing hard after the philistines that King Saul gave an order, “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening, and until I have avenged myself on my enemies." (1 Samuel 14:24) Unfortunately, his son Jonathan was not there to hear his command. So when he entered the forest he found some honey and ate from it. When it was told Jonathan that his father had commanded that no one should eat until the philistines were destroyed, he responded with contempt to his father’s command. “My father has troubled the land. See now, how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much more, if only the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.” (1 Samuel 14:29-30) Later that day Saul sought the Lord for direction in the battle, yet God was silent. So they cast lots to see who had sinned and the lot fell to Jonathan. Saul asked Jonathon what he had done and Jonathon replied, “I indeed tasted a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die!” (1 Samuel 14:43) While Saul was set to kill his son, the people objected and Saul relented of his decision. The will of the people saved Jonathan yet this episode ends with the following words, “Then Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place.” (1 Samuel 14:46) Jonathan was spared but the philistines got away. When King Saul agreed to ignore the sin of his son he lost his authority to lead. The enemies were on the run, Israel was winning the war, but Saul’s compromise brought an early end to the campaign. The victory that could have been the Lord’s was lost and Israel returned home without having accomplished all that they could have.

Tolerating sin, and the seeds of sin, in our families always leads to disaster. Parenting takes love, yet love takes courage. As a parent, love is less concerned with being like by our children and more concerned with seeing them formed into the image of Christ. A loving parent is less concerned with what others think and what the world says than they are with raising children who know God and who know how to live according to His ways. “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Proverbs 13:24) Love is willing to confront the issues that need to be confronted. Love understands that momentary discomfort and discipline are sometimes necessary to produce the life long fruit of righteousness. It’s not easy to have to inflict pain on our children, and it’s hurtful when they express their anger towards us for our punishing of them, but Love looks to the reward, love looks to the life that will be formed by godly discipline, training, and instruction.

More to come… David Robison

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