Paul urges us to rejoice in the midst of tribulations and sufferings, not because sufferings and tribulations are good in themselves, but because of the fruit they produce. Tribulation, he says, produces perseverance, proven character, and a hope that does not disappoint.
Everyone suffers, but not everyone produces these fruits. Tribulation produces this result because of God’s work in us, a work that Paul describes as “the love of God poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” We see these results only when God’s love, and the love that He arouses in us, inhabit us. We see good results from discipline only because of the work of the indwelling Spirit.
When our tribulations lead to patience, the fruit is the fruit of the Spirit. When we train our children, the progress is from the Spirit. When we discipline and correct them, whatever good results we see come from the Spirit who has poured love in our hearts.
We are made from dust. We are dry ground, barren and waste. And we remain barren and waste until the Spirit is poured out from above to renew the land. Dust is formed into precious jewels by pressure, and by the fire of the Spirit.
So, the key thing in the Christian life, and in training children, is to avoid grieving the Spirit. We grieve the Spirit by being unforgiving, angry, unwholesome in speech, malicious. If we want our families to flourish like a garden, if we want our children to bear abundant fruit, we need to be filled with the love of God which has been poured out in us by the Spirit.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 07:51 AM
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