Given Good Principles: A Lesson In Parenting and Every Day Living From Jane Austen

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Last week Ladybug graduated from preschool.  We are all very proud of her and the amazing young lady that she is growing up to be.  This child knows more about Scripture, about Jesus, and about Christianity than I ever did at her age.  It wasn't until I was in high school, probably, that I learned about The Fruit of the Spirit and The Armor of God.  She has so many of the principles of our faith down pat.  She knows it, but it isn't good for her just to know about it.  We know about a great many things, but that knowledge means nothing unless it is put into practice.  Of all things, it brought to mind a conversation in Pride and Prejudice, near the end, between Darcy and Elizabeth:
The line, “ As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit.” just hit me as I thought about myself and how I am raising Ladybug.  It also made me think on how I was raised to think.

I'm going to be honest.  I was raised with a ton of improper pride and conceit.  I was taught to think more highly of myself because of the things I did and, often more importantly, didn't do. I have thought myself better than others because I supposedly followed the good principles with which I was raised.  Yet that improper pride has gotten me into more trouble than just about anything else.  Possibly the greatest lesson of my thirties has been than I am no better than anyone else.  We are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

Quite honestly, I am a wretched, wretched being.  On my own, I am quick tempered, rude, hateful, deceitful, and many other horrible things.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.."  The good in me is only that which comes from God.  I can know the Scriptures word for word, but unless I put them into practice, they mean nothing.  I want to be a parent who teaches her child, not just by reading the Bible with her and telling her what is right from wrong.   I want us to be a family of doers, not just talkers.  I want to lead by example and to teach her that "faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself."

The works do not save us.  "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast." The works are a result of our faith and appreciation of the gift  from God that our salvation is.   We are not entitled to God's love or salvation.  We can never be good enough or complete enough works to earn salvation.  It only comes through faith.  How can one claim to have faith, and not want to share it? We are like a tree, and when we have the Holy Spirit within us, we will produce good fruit, which is, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

 The first fruit mentioned is love.  What is love?  "Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  Love is neither proud nor conceited, and that brings us back to these questions:

  • Are we living  like Mr. Darcy, pre-Hunsford?  
  • Do we thinking meanly of the rest of the world beyond our own circles?  This is a big one for all of us who attend church.
  • Do we put into practice the principles, the commandments and scripture that we have been taught and study? 
  •  Do we know what is right and wrong but not put it into practice, all the while patting ourselves on the back for being such good people?
I am thrilled beyond imagine that Ladybug has such an extensive Biblical knowledge.  My prayer is that we raise her to be a doer, to always put all of that knowledge into practice because that is what she has seen from me.

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