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Good Character won't get you into Heaven - Issue 173
October 29, 2010
|Hi there! ....
This week has been more about learning in life’s situations than any planned lessons – I like having weeks like this. They help me remember to keep my focus on learning (and educating the whole child), on relationships and on us working together as a family. The children worked in the sandalwood, they helped with the mangoes, we went swimming, we did lots of talking, they did a writing workshop and began to prepare a speech due in a few weeks time, they began new sewing projects (yes, even Daniel), they helped in the garden, the girls helped at Mainly Music and had “Keepers of the Home” with their friends, they had piano lessons, did the grocery shop with me, Daniel worked with his dad in the garden fixing sprinklers and the lawn mower. I’m sure I could keep on going with the things that happened in our week that gave our children learning opportunities. It is a good exercise to reflect back on a ‘messy’ week, and see what really did happen – otherwise we easily believe the lie that “we did nothing” and that leads to feeling bad about our efforts, which leads to us feeling pressure which ironically leads us away from our goals not towards them.
I want to highlight a blog post I wrote this week: Relationships First means…? - What does ‘relationships first’ mean, what does it look like? This is an important aspect to get clear in our thinking. I hope you take the time to pop over and read this blog after you’ve read the newsletter.
Live life with your kids!
If you are an Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.
Good Character won’t get you into HeavenWe are not saved by our good works – good character won’t get you into heaven. We are saved by the grace of God, the forgiveness of our sins because of the death of Jesus on the cross. There is nothing we can do that will get us any closer to heaven – if we accept what God has done for us and is offering us, then it is done, finished, we get to be with God forever. So before we teach character we have to make sure that our hearts are right with God, that our eternal position is confirmed.
But what is salvation without works as James puts it. Once we are saved, out of adoration and commitment to God our heart response is to live as he would have us, to serve him in all we do, to learn of his ways. This is where character fits into the picture – character is a reflection of God in us. Without God we can do good things but as Jesus said, they are all as filthy rags – it is only the righteousness of Jesus who saves us (not our good character). This is the issue that Jesus had with the Pharisees – they were good people, of good character, but they didn’t receive Jesus and they were without life. The Pharisees followed the rules to become good, Jesus wanted them to follow him (I am the way) not to become good (because no man can be truly good) but to reflect him, and his goodness.
Reflect is an interesting thing – a reflection does nothing to be a reflection – whatever the main thing is, the reflection is just a copy, it is just there. This needs to be us too – we need to reflect Jesus, we don’t need to do anything, Jesus is the main thing, we are just there – a reflection of whatever he is. But we can only reflect Jesus if He is in us; if we are of Him. If our focus is on ourselves, if we are living for ourselves and responding to people and situations to suit ourselves, then we will reflect ourselves. If our focus and life is about Jesus, then we will reflect him.
So why do I teach character if we are just to reflect Jesus? Many people ask this question. Many people think that as we learn about obedience, self control, diligence and responsibility that we are promoting being saved by good works, that we want to be good. This is the wrong way around. We are saved – full stop – because we accepted Jesus’ gift. Now as a follower of God I want to learn as much as I can about Him, His character and His ways. Children are instructed to obey parents, and we are instructed to obey God’s word (we need to understand obedience), we are cautioned against being angry (self control), we are commanded to work (diligence) and we are told to be good stewards with what we have been given (responsibility/dominion). The character traits that we teach are in the Bible, they are consistent with God’s laws; they are consistent with how God wants us to live, now as redeemed people.
The thing is, we will constantly fail at showing love, patience and honour because we are human but with the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to grow into these things. The Bible talks about us being babes to start with (drinking milk) and then growing and maturing to eating meat. Our character is a manifestation of this maturing process. But we have to rely on God’s Holy Spirit to help us grow. Everyone can show love, but only the person empowered by the Holy Spirit is going to love their enemy – which is God’s command to us. Everyone can have order or peace, but only the person who is controlled by the Holy Spirit is going to find that peace in the midst of chaotic, confusing, overwhelming situations. This is the character of Jesus being reflected in our lives.
As we teach character to our children, and learn ourselves, we need to make sure
Character is not a matter of salvation - it is a matter of maturing as a Christian person. It is not a matter of good works but rather of worship – in all that you do give glory to God because He has saved you. Not only do we need to know this but we need to make sure that our children understand this too. They are not saved by their good character.
This righteousness from God comes through faith
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