Tag: #MartinLuther

Restoring Gently and Bearing Burdens

At this stage in my life, so much of my reading and studying is filtered through the perspective of mothering. This includes my study of the Bible and theology. I find the deeper I dig into God’s Word, the more light it shines on my life–and how I ought to mother.

 

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:1-2

 

“Brothers. . .” This passage is written to Believers. As parents, God has given us special responsibility towards our children. But they are also our “brothers” and in the Covenant.

As parents, God has given us special responsibility towards our children. But they are also our “brothers” and in the Covenant.

 

My friend Kristen shared,  “We went to Ash Wednesday services at the beginning of Lent with Kate at the Episcopal church around the corner (we missed liturgy) and when the priest put ashes on her little forehead, it really made an impact on me. As much as I am her mother, I am also her sister in Christ. This has been really helpful to me in thinking through parenting issues. Most Christians wouldn’t serve wine to a fellow Christian who was a recovering alcoholic. Why do they discipline their children and then set them up to do the same things again?”

 

In his commentary on Galatians, Martin Luther clarifies that “caught in sin” is not speaking about doctrinal errors, “but about far lesser sins into which people fall not deliberately, but through weakness.”

 

As our children are learning right from wrong, they will sin. As they are growing through various stages of development, they will have greater or lesser control over their impulses.

 

Luther goes on to say, “is caught in imply being tricked by the devil or sinful nature.”  Sinful nature, temptation, weakness, developmental stages–remembering these sins of our children are part of their weakness helps me respond to them with compassion.

 

Luther states, “Paul therefore teaches how those who have fallen should be dealt with–namely those who are strong should raise them up and restore them gently.”

 

I don’t always feel “strong” or “spiritual.” Often I feel weak and struggling myself. But it is my responsibility to raise my children and be strong for them. We have no trouble with the idea of parents being a “mama bear” protecting her young child. I also want to be strong spiritually to correct them gently, to be the “mama bear” to help my children when they are struggling with sin.

 

It’s interesting to note that this passage is immediately proceeded by the admonitions to walk in the Spirit and the list of the fruit of the Spirit– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These should be on my mind as I restore my children gently.

 

Luther reinforces the idea of this passage reminding us of “the fatherly and motherly affection that Paul requires of those who have charge over souls.”

 

What does “restoring gently” look like?

 

Luther explains, “when they see that those persons are sorrowful for their offenses, they should begin to raise them up again, to comfort them, and to mitigate their faults as much as they can—yet through mercy only, which they must set against sin, lest those who have fallen are swallowed up with depression.” And “. . .gently, and not in the zeal of severe justice.”

 

To be honest, at times I’ve had Christian mothers advocate some child-training approaches that seemed to have more of the “zeal of severe justice” than how Luther describes the Holy Spirit’s correction, “mild and pitiful in forbearing.”

we are told to “carry each other’s burdens.” I see this, in light of mothering, as an especial entreaty to know our particular children and their particular weaknesses.

 

After restoring gently, we are told to “carry each other’s burdens.” I see this, in light of mothering, as an especial entreaty to know our particular children and their particular weaknesses.

 

One of my preschool sons was insecure around lots of guests–and he responded in the past by getting very loud, climbing on furniture, and even hitting a guest. I’ve found that to carry his burden means I prepare him beforehand for our guests, and I hold his hand when they arrive, until he is comfortable and calm. Another son was prone to lash out at his brothers when he was angry. Bearing his burden has meant praying with him and for him, helping him recognize when he feels anger rising, and giving him strategies to deal with that anger without hitting. And it has meant letting him know it’s good to come to me and say, “Mommy, I’m angry” so I can help him not sin in his anger.

 

Also in this encouragement to carry one another’s burdens, it strikes me how wrong it is to follow the child-training technique of placing a child in a situation of temptation–to test him and see whether he can withstand it (or be punished.) This method is encouraged by some for training toddlers and preschoolers, and seems to be very contrary to bearing the burdens of temptation.

 

Luther also comments on this passage that sometimes in bearing with one another, things need to just be let go–“These people are the ones who are overtaken by sin and have the burdens that Paul commands us to carry. In this case, let us not be rigorous and merciless, but follow the example of Christ, who bears and forbears these burdens. If he does not punish them, though He might do so with justice, much less ought we to do so.”

 

“And watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. . .” For parents, I see this as a two-fold warning. First, to be gentle, not be angry—the caution here illustrates how very easy it is to slip into being harsh.

 

And also I see the warning not to be tempted to pride. When we become concerned about appearing to be “good parents” it is easy to slip into correcting harshly, minutely. This is one of the areas in which I struggled a lot, especially when my children were smaller. And especially when we were guests in churches and people’s homes. I felt pressure (from myself even more than others) for my kids to be perfect and “prove” we were worthy to be missionaries. That pressure tempted me both into pride in my children’s good behaviour, as well being overly picky and correcting unnecessarily.

 

“Christians (parents!) must have strong shoulders and mighty bones, so they can carry their brother’s weaknesses. . .” — Martin Luther

The end of these verses is “in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

As Martin Luther said, “After Christ had redeemed us, renewed us, and made us his church, he gave us no other law but that of mutual love. To love is not to wish one another well, but to carry one another’s burdens–that is, things that are grievous to us, and that we would not willingly bear. Therefore, Christians (parents!) must have strong shoulders and mighty bones, so they can carry their brother’s weaknesses. . . Love, therefore, is mild, courteous, and patient, not in receiving, but in giving, for it is constrained to wink at many things and to bear them.”

 

Footnote: Quotations are from the Crossway Commentary series,

Martin Luther on Galatians. Luther’s commentary is also available free online, in a variant translation.

 

*****

 
It’s funny how some of the lessons the Lord leads us through circle back again for us. I continue to pray that the Lord will show me how to “restore gently” as I’m once again in the toddler/preschool years and as we navigate the new road of our children being adults. Originally posted May 2005 and January 2010.

 

Remembering Mike Riddering

Mike Riddering - Image Via Hollywood Community Church

Mike Riddering – Image Via Hollywood Community Church

 

It was just one week ago that missionary Mike Riddering left Les Ailes de Refuge Orphanage to travel to the capital of Burkina Faso to meet up with a visiting short term team. He was first having a meeting with a local pastor at the Cappuccino Café.

When we lived in Nairobi, Java House was where missionaries coming in from the bush would indulge in good coffee–their office in the city.

It’s easy for me to imagine… walking past sidewalk café tables, finding a seat near a businessman working on his Mac, waving at the waitress who knows that I like an extra large water with my latte.

I remember Hubby scanning the seating, looking for anything suspicious, choosing a seat away from the entrance, scoping out an escape route if necessary.  It wasn’t just his former Army hyper-vigilance kicking in — Nairobi is rated “critical crime, critical terrorism,” and the Westgate Mall terrorist attack sadly proved that valid.

Though Kenya has seen quite a bit of violence from Islamic terrorists, it seems like Burkina Faso was caught off guard by the attack from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).   Mike and Pastor Valentin wouldn’t have been scanning the crowd, wouldn’t have prepped their families on emergency protocols in case of attacks.

This has hit close to home to me, even though I didn’t know Mike and Amy Riddering.  I have been mourning for them. Praying for their four children. Imagining the shock of their community of orphans and vulnerable people with whom they work in Yako. What does the future hold?

Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes are often considered the first Evangelical martyrs, burned at the stake in 1523.  When he heard of their deaths for the cause of Christ, Martin Luther wrote what was possibly his first hymn.

Flung to the heedless winds,
Or on the waters cast,
The martyrs’ ashes, watched,
Shall gathered be at last.

And from that scattered dust,
Around us and abroad,
Shall spring a plenteous seed,
Of witnesses for God.

The Father hath received,
Their latest living breath,
And vain is Satan’s boast,
Of victory in their death.

Still, still, though dead, they speak,
And, trumpet tongued, proclaim,
To many a wakening land,
The one availing name.

 

I mourn the death of Mike and other Christians around the world, yet I maintain hope that “vain is Satan’s boast of victory in their death.”  

Jesus was crucified — yet he rose again.  In Him, we have life and will have life even after death. His Gospel of grace is truly good news, and continues to be carried around the world.

Please pray for the Riddering family–the immediate family, their orphanage community, and their church home.

Please pray for missionaries around the world who are serving in sensitive locations.

Please pray we each are ready to show God’s love where we are.

 

If you want to give to support Amy Riddering and their children, you can donate to the Michael Riddering Memorial Fund.  The memorial service will be held February 6, at Hollywood Community Church, Florida.

 

 

 

Martin Luther Musings

Look what came in the mail today!

Look what came in the mail!

 

It’s my Martin Luther figure from Playmobil. A3 was amused by “mommy’s toy”…
I’ve been reading lots of Luther lately… On Reformation Day (October 31), I realized that soon it would be the 500th celebration of the one of the pivotal times in Christian history.

I realized I had only a cursory understanding of Martin Luther and his contributions to Chrsitianity, in spite of having a decent grasp of Reformed and Biblical thought.

I’ve been reading. Reflecting. Scribbling out my growing understanding of Christ, as I see Luther ponder the Gospel.

And, I’m excited. Well, excited is too energetic a word for me these days. It’s been good to feel my growth in the Lord, feel my brain used in this way again…