Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (NIV) Philippians 2:3-4
There is so much hurt and pain in our world right now. A global pandemic has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands and caused millions more to become sick. Racial tension has led to protests and riots stemming from deep seeded division and historical injustices. In the midst of all of this, it is easy to become inwardly focused—to look only to our own needs and not seek the good of our neighbors as well.
The current situation in our world also makes it hard to teach our children to look beyond themselves and toward the needs of others. When my children were younger, they would fight over toys and throw tantrums when they had to share. Now as a family with two teenagers, we waste precious Friday family movie time as both kids insist on their favorite selection. No one wants to agree to a movie that is not their first choice. Helping our children overcome selfishness and inward thinking will prepare them to tackle larger questions of justice and mercy as they get older.
In Luke 10:25-37, a self-important expert in the Hebrew law decides to test Jesus After an exchange about loving God, neighbor, and self, Jesus then tells the Good Samaritan parable, a story where most of the characters could not look beyond themselves. Jesus calls us to live lives of justice (doing what is right) and mercy (looking out for the needs of others). Jesus told the expert in the law, the most important commandment is to love God and love your neighbor. How do we instill justice and mercy—tenderness, compassion, and love—into the lives of our children? Here are a few ideas.
As you serve together, read scripture, and begin to intentionally look at the world through the lenses of justice and mercy, you’ll find God at work daily. It won’t always be easy. In fact, it will almost certainly be difficult and change you and your children. But it will bring you closer to God and his heart for his people.
Want to dig deeper? Check out Family Fire's article Taming the Tongue.