The Charitable Parent/Teacher

"Though I speak with thc tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (I Corinthians 13:1-7).

What is the single greatest trait of a parent? What characteristic is most important for a teacher? Is it being articulate, to speak as an orator or angel?  No. Is it possessing great wisdom, to understand deep mysteries? No. Is it possessing great faith, to believe that God can perform miracles?   No. Is it self-sacrificing my goods, to give time and finances? Not necessarily. What is most important then? Scripture answers this question with one word, "charity." To love my children, my students is that which is most critical.

Charity refers to gracious love. Love that gives without demanding returns. Charity loves graciously. Charity loves to love. The ultimate demonstration of charity is God’s love for His children. He loves them freely. He does not love them because of who they are, but despite who they are. Viewing themselves, God’s children are sinners. God does not love them because they deserve His love, but because He loves to love them. They cannot sin themselves out of His love for them. This is charity.

Parents, when you interact with your children, is it charitable interaction? Teachers, when you work with your students, does it reveal charity? All the knowledge we share with our students, all our talks with our children, all our self-sacrificing preparations to teach them, and a11 our prayers with them will all ring hollow if we miss one item, and that is charity.

How do we demonstrate charity’? How can we recognize it? 1 Corinthians 13 tells us how. Verses 4-5 list fifteen characteristics of charity. Parents, examine your parenting with this "checklist." Teachers, evaluate your teaching with this "report card." It is easy to love my child when he or she pleases me. It is not difficult to love a student who is respectful, obedient and completes his work as required. It is not challenging to love someone who is deserving of my favor. But the test for charity lies deeper. Do I love the child who displeases and hurts me, or the student who repeatedly disrupts class and fails to complete assignments? Do I love to love this child, not his behavior, hut this person, despite his unworthiness. Is my love gracious? Does it reflect something of God’s love for His children?

Do you want to grow in parenting skills, in teaching ability? Examine your heart frequently by these verses. Do you suffer long, or are you rap idly moving to, "This is the last time I’m putting up with this?" Are you not seeking your own, or is your attitude, "He’s not going to get away with this is my class?" Do you think no evil, or are you reflecting an attitude of "No way can I trust her?" Even when you correct and chasten (and you must), can your child or student feel your love? God chastens His children’s sins, but they cannot sin themselves out of His love. His love is deeper than their sin. When your children and students sin, can they feel the truth of your gracious love’? Can they see the beautiful gem of charity?

How can I grow in charity? Only by graciously receiving grace for grace. The gift of charity can only be received from the Giver, a gracious God in Jesus Christ. We need the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts to charitably work charity in us. Pray much for grace to be gracious. I see a teacher praying before school begins, seated in the most challenging student’s desk, praying for grace to be gracious in his working with this child today. God loves to love. Do you?

Are you a gracious parent, a charitable teacher?