“Because I said so!” Admit it, when frustrated as parents, running out of words to compel our kids to do the right thing, we end of shouting what our parents said to us. We said we never say those words (before being parents) and then one day it happens. The words flow out quickly, easily and unrestrained. “Do it because I said so!” This is usually followed by a heavy sigh with a bit of regret. You know it’s not your best teachable moment, on a quick fix from frustration. We want our kids to do the right thing because they want to, motivated by growing inner character with good hearts and great minds; not by us consistently standing over their shoulders.
Is there a way to encourage right behavior without constant words and your presence? Yes, there is.
- Model what we teach. Kids pick up on fakes and phonies quickly at a very early age. Consistency is key. Know that much of what is taught is caught through our behavior.
- Talk while you walk through life. Give reasons for actions we are taking in our own lives.
- Allow failure and consequences as learning opportunities for growth.
- Downplay criticisms. Follow through with encouragement, care, relentless love, forgiveness with a fresh beginning.
- Be Christ-like in all our relationships, showing respect and dignity to every human we come in contact with in our journey to be more and more like Jesus.
- Don’t hide our own failures, show them how to deal with failure.
- Care for others as others cared for us, bringing our kids into the process. They learn best by being with us.
- Wrap all this up in prayer to our Master Teacher, Jesus, who taught his young followers to pray. As we remember, his disciples were motivated to learn to pray by watching Jesus pray. Do we see the powerful lesson here? Let them see you praying as often as possible.
Paul, sent on mission by Jesus, to teach new believers the ways of God, cannot revisit the church in person so he sends a follow up letter to be read to the all who will hear. He begins by reminding them WHO we follow and who we are in Christ because of what HE did for us. Listen in to his teaching…like a parent to his children…much more than “because I said so!”
CORINTHIANS—CALLED AND SENT
2 Corinthians 1, The Message
1-2 I, Paul, have been sent on a special mission by the Messiah, Jesus, planned by God himself. I write this to God’s congregation in Corinth, and to believers all over Achaia province. May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours! Timothy, someone you know and trust, joins me in this greeting.
3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.
8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.
12-14 Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.
15-16 Confident of your welcome, I had originally planned two great visits with you—coming by on my way to Macedonia province, and then again on my return trip. Then we could have had a bon-voyage party as you sent me off to Judea. That was the plan.
17-19 Are you now going to accuse me of flip-flopping with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth—a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes?
20-22 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.
23 Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative.
24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.
WHAT WE LEARN—
Paul plans but God decides. Paul makes that very clear. He is “on mission by Jesus, planned by God.”
Come-alongside-ministry. God brings us through hard times so we can help others go through hard times! What God teaches us is that valuable and appropriate to help others! Who helps you? Think about all these people and stop to give God praises for them. Then praise God for all he brought you through and who He sent in your path to help. Friends, don’t you love this teaching? The reward? A full measure of Jesus’ comfort and healing!
“When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.”
“Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!” This is what we learn in dark, confusing, troubling hard times in our lives. Trust Jesus. Always. God has the power to raise the dead! He has the power to see us through anything we will face on this earth!
“Prayers play a crucial part.” Constant communication with the One and Only who has all the power to see us through the good times and bad times is key to thriving as opposed to merely surviving. Prayer keeps us focused on Jesus, our Master. Prayer brings us closer to the power we need to overcome adversity. Prayer is listening, being still, letting go of our own way, so we can hear what God has to say. Prayer opens our eyes to better vision, seeing with a wider scope, with a different perspective. Prayer is crucial to daily living a more holy life guided by God’s Holy Spirit who lives in us.
“It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised.” When in doubt, when the hard times come, look up. God will keep us on tract, in his will, for our good.
Be flexible, joyfully expectant, ready to go or stay. We plan, but God decides. Follow God’s leading. Authentic leaders, like Paul, are flexible, ready to change course as the Holy Spirit leads.
It’s God’s work, not ours. “God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.” See also Philippians 1. “He who began a good work in you will complete it.”
“We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.” In other words, they are now motivated by the One Paul is motivated by—not just “because I said so” we can almost hear Paul say.
Thank you for your teaching this morning. Thank you for reminding us that we are all partners, working alongside each other, with different gifts and abilities but with one purpose, one desire to follow you, the One and Only. You are Life, our reason to live and breathe. You are our Hope of eternal life. You are our Savior and our Lord, dear Jesus. You are our Master Teacher. Continue to work out your salvation in me.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen