PARENTING LIKE GOD: TENDERNESS, AFFECTION, AND PATIENCE by Justin Holcomb for Core Christianity
GNN Note – Spare the rod, spoil the child. Children learn love through discipline. /END
How we think God responds to us shapes how we respond to our children. God’s tenderness, affection, and patience is an amazing and important foundation for our parenting.
My friend Michael Horton writes about John Calvin’s view of God: “Across Calvin’s writings, one of the recurring terms for God’s lavish gift-giving disposition is ‘liberality’—often ‘fatherly liberality.’ God is not stingy. As we see in nature, God has provided for us far beyond our needs, to delight us with the diversity of pleasures that ought to lead us to gratitude for his bounty.” One of Calvin’s favorite words about God’s love and disposition toward us is “gratuitous” (mercy, promise, love, favor, goodness).
Calvin writes about God’s disposition toward us:
“Those bound by the yoke of the law are like servants assigned certain tasks for each day by their masters. These servants think they have accomplished nothing, and dare not appear before their masters unless they have fulfilled the exact measure of their tasks. But sons who are more generously and candidly treated by their fathers do not hesitate to offer them incomplete and half-done and even defective works, trusting that their obedience and readiness of mind will be accepted by their fathers, even though they have not quite achieved what their fathers intended. Such children ought we to be, firmly trusting that our services will be approved by our most merciful Father, however small, rude, and imperfect these may be.”
John Calvin, Institutes, III.xix.5
In The Upper Room, J.C. Ryle has a beautiful passage about what parenting with tenderness, affection, and patience could look like. This seems like the practical parenting application of Calvin’s doctrine of God.
“Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience. I do not mean that you are to spoil her, but I do mean that you should let her see that you love her.
Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys,—these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily,—these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to her heart.