Children: Consider What Is Said To You

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My father always said in the old fashioned way when something was done for him, “I am much obliged” or just “Much obliged.” Obliged meant that he thanked them as well as he felt obligated to give back a favor for favors received if and when he could.

My mother said she preferred to pay, because it did not obligate her to others. But she recognized there were things done sometimes that cash could not cover.

But I try to explain to those I give to that I am sharing, not giving, that I am grateful to God I have the ability to give some thing's sometimes. I do much but never enough as the world is so messed up.

I try to give as delicately as I can since having to take can be a blow to an independent ego. So I sometimes make up work to do to help salvage the pride of those having to take.

Of course if you have an affectionate relationship with those you give to, you do not have to justify your giving. A show of affectionate concern covers a multitude of sins.

Once I tried to explain this to a bum at the door I was giving to. (A bum, nevertheless, is a child of God. We give according to our ability and their needs. Need first, merit second.) So I was giving to a bum and tried to explain to him why and how I was giving. Poor bum! Forced to wait.

As I stood explaining grace, which really needs no explanation, I heard someone laughing. It was Grady who had dropped by. To me he is a son in the spirit, as Timothy was to Paul, and Grady was laughing at me.

Grady said, “Lighten up, Pop, that guy doesn’t understand one thing you are saying. He understands the money. Skip the lecture. Let him go.” Grady advised me still laughing, “The bum will realize what he has been called by grace to realize in God’s good time.”

I turned to Grady and said, “What if his time does not come: what then?” Grady replied, “ You must leave it to God. Rest in the Way, the Tao of Christ. Rest in the Great Silence of God. No one holds a gun on grace and makes it develop. You cannot take the Kingdom of God by violence. The violent will bear it away”

I turned to him and said, “You have been around me too long.” We both laughed. Grady then said, “You have always taught me to use common sense in my expressions of grace. Were you?”

I thought about this and decided the boy was right. Of course he was not a boy anymore. He was a man married to a nice wife and had a wonderful baby that he brought by so we could watch the baby gurgle and wave. We enjoyed laughing together at the baby, charmed by the ways of innocence.

Yes, I thought, Grady is quite right. I told him that. He always wants to keep it simple. Considering the circumstances I should have. I reminded myself: You must watch to see if you put enough common sense in your expressions of grace.

Then I realized something. I praised the Lord in my heart. Grady was not doing as I did. He was doing what I said. That was a raise in the level of grace: from imitation to consideration is a giant step in growing in life and grace.

A certain spiritual maturity is reached when you stop doing what a father does, going beyond that, and considering seriously what the father says. I have told everyone to do as I say, not as I do, because what I do is fallible. And I do not always do what I should. This is what Paul, The Apostle meant in saying he knew what he ought to do, but always did not do it. (That tendency not to do what we ought to do and selfishness are good examples of original sin.)

Now what we ought to do is not always what we do, but what we say is usually what we ought to do. When we do as others do, we are imitating, but when we consider what we ought to do in our unique circumstances, we are creating. Life begins in imitations but it grows into creations if it develops rightly, climbing from nature to grace.

Had not Grady followed the instructions of the Apostle in II Timothy 2:7; “Consider what I say; and the Lord will give thee understanding in all things.”

Children, when you are young, do as your parents do, imitate them, but when you are growing up, do what your parents say. Consider what they say to you, which is beyond what they are, because they have high hopes for the new you.

Children, it is your duty to consider what your parents say, not try to excuse yourself on the grounds of what they do. But grow up and develop in grace to the high hopes they hold for your character and spiritual success.

Children: The Fifth Commandment is: Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother. (Exodus 20: 12) Why not? You are their hearts. They try to rear you in the redeeming ways of grace.

Parents: Be fair to your children. Give them a mother and a father if you can. Sacrifice for the them as they need. (Let them know it and see it that they may respect your sacrifices and efforts.) Be patient, be kind, be reasonable. Talk with them. Work with the grain of the wood, the disposition of their temperaments. (As their parents, you will see what that is.) Expect of them the effort they are qualified to give., Take them to church. Raise them to be comrades in Christ. Teach them they have a duty to you, the family, the community and Christ. Teach them life is found in the giving as well as the getting.

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.