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Did you raise intelligent children?

Okay, so how many of you would say your parents raised intelligent children? How about your own kiddos - would you consider them to be intelligent children? Ask most parents that question and you would get an immediate response of a little bit taller posture, a grin appearing on their faces, and a quick "I think we did a pretty great job with them" might come forth. Ask a group of parents with wayward kiddos and you might just get a sulking glance and a little less positivity in their response. Intelligent children are not 'smart' in terms of book-learning, although that might help them get places in this world, but wise in terms of knowing when and how to be obedient to the right set of values or morals. I imagine there were times when my parents looked upon my actions and saw a child acting pretty foolishly - off doing her own thing, oblivious to the 'rules' by which I was to have made my choices. Yet, there were other times I know they looked upon my choices as wise and well-founded. It is pretty much a given that we will make bad choices in life, but what is the pattern of behavior we see? If the pattern is pretty much on the side of living obedient lives, I daresay we have raised 'intelligent children'.

Intelligent children listen to their parents; foolish children do their own thing. (Proverbs 13:1)

God asks for his kiddos to sit up at an attentive stance, taking notice of the things he values and declares to be 'treasures' in his kingdom - then learn to make choices that reinforce those values and keep those 'treasures' from being stolen away from us. Listening requires attentiveness - the basis of obedience is hearing what is being declared to be 'in' or 'out' of bounds for our lives. It requires some degree of willingness to put aside our own wants and wishes at times, but only because giving into every 'desire' of our heart isn't all that wise. There are some pretty silly things our hearts can direct us to do. Don't believe me? Just ask the last person you know who went through a relationship break-up what they were 'listening to' when they went head-long into that relationship. I doubt it was their spirit - it was more likely their emotions! Emotions are 'heart-based'.

God is after the heart - because he knows how much our heart can lead us astray. It pulls at our reason and exercises 'unreasonable' influence over our 'reason'. Hence, we label the behaviors that are primarily emotionally based as 'foolishness' most of the time. Those behaviors don't always work out as well as we had hoped - leaving us 'cleaning up' some form of mess in our lives. It is because we have chosen to do our 'own thing' that we are in the mess, but it isn't that God hasn't raised 'intelligent children'. It is because we have let go of that 'spiritual intelligence' for just a moment or two to pursue something our heart desired the most at that moment. We chose to follow a path of foolishness rather than stay on the harder path of obedience. Not one of us makes wise choices to consistently be obedient 100% of the time - not ONE. Not one of us is above doing our own thing from time to time - leading to foolish outcomes indeed.

If you were to ask me if I raised intelligent children, I'd have to say 'mostly'. There have been those moments when they chose to do their own thing, leading down paths I'd wished they never experienced. For the most part, they know the values and treasures they are to focus on first in their lives, but just like the rest of us, they don't always put those things first. The most we can do as parents is show our children what choices are wise and which ones are not. We can help them discover the values that God treasures and the things he declares of supreme worth. Can we make them always choose those things above their own desires? Absolutely not. We can model, train, and even lead - but we cannot choose for them. God just asks that we raise them to the best of the ability he gives us - then leave the rest to him. Obedience is a heart thing - they will choose with their own hearts and we might not always like their choices, but it doesn't mean we love them any less.

God knows we will choose with our own hearts - but it never means he loves us any less when we choose to follow a path of foolish choices for a period of time. It just means his grace will be needed even more so that we can be restored to the path of obedience once again. Just sayin!


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