In our Mama Heart Like Jesus series we are studying how Jesus discipled His followers as a model for discipling our own children.
Then we focused on Jesus’ approach to protecting His disciples from evil, teaching them to be in the world but not of the world, and we discussed protecting our kids from the lies of the enemy.
This month we are discussing how Jesus encouraged His disciples to show God’s love to others.
Last week we talked about how Jesus gave His followers a sense of purpose.
This week I have guest blogger, Beth Meverden, sharing with us ways to encourage our children to bear fruit in order to share God’s love with others.
Guest Blog: Beth Meverden
Beth Meverden is an author, ministry leader, and expert in parenting. She writes for numerous ministries and provides free resources at bethmeverden.com. For more information on Beth and her wonderful resources, check out her full bio at the bottom of this post.
Every day on the way to school, I quote the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-17) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) with my children. I throw in others to make sure they’re still hidden in their hearts (John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Romans 3:23, 1 John 4:19, etc.).
Why do I focus on those passages with my children? Because when times get tough and they start to wonder if God is with them or how to handle a specific situation, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will bring those verses back to mind and give them encouragement and guidance.
We need to remember that God is with us and has given us everything we need to face whatever comes against us (Ephesians 6:14-17) AND we need to know that we are to abide in Jesus and bear His fruit and not our own.
Fruit cannot be borne apart from the branch. An apple doesn’t magically **poof** out of thin air. It’s planted as a seed, watered, nourished by the sun, grows up into a tree, blossoms, THEN becomes a fruit… when still connected to the branch, changing colors and flavors as it matures.
Why is it important for our children to stay connected to Jesus and bear His fruit? It’s how the world around us, those He’s planted us next to, are nourished. We are His fruit to draw others to Him.
So what’s so great about this necessary fruit bearing? Let’s take a glance at each of the fruit and consider how each of those fruit could benefit our children and families.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
1 John 4:8b says, “God is love.” Everything starts with God (…”in the beginning” Genesis 1:1).
Love is a decision. It’s more than a feeling. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
What we have for others is an overflow of what God gives us through Jesus.
I could go on and on about love and its importance, but I’ll let you dig deeper if the Spirit prompts you (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Romans 13:8).
Joy is different than happiness. Though we think we want happiness for our children, happiness is fleeting like an ice cream cone. It’s dependent on our circumstances, emotional state, and other people. JOY comes from the Spirit.
Paul issues a command for us in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice!”
We always have a reason to be joyful because we have salvation in Jesus Christ. So OF COURSE we would want this fruit to bear in our children’s hearts.
This is the “peace that transcends all understanding” we read about in Philippians 4:6-7. It’s the peace we feel when it doesn’t make sense for us to be calm during an emergency situation or a test. It’s the peace that helps us keep our heads clear when we’re feeling overwhelmed because we trust in God for the details of our entire life.
This kind of patience is defined “calmly waiting without complaining”.
We could use a little of this from our children while we’re shopping for groceries or school shoes… or any kind of shopping really. We could use this fruit when our children are playing a board game together or waiting for their sibling to give them a chance in the restroom.
This kind of patience puts others first and waits until others have been served. May our children bear this fruit this week (and us, too)!
Kindness and Goodness
These fruit go together. Goodness is doing the right thing no matter how we feel and kindness is goodness that comes out of the tenderness of our hearts toward someone.
Goodness looks like our children picking up their toys before bed because they know it’s the right thing to do to meet our expectations.
Kindness looks like our son picking up their little sister’s toys, as well, because he knows Grandma’s coming over and he wants to make sure she doesn’t trip.
It looks like integrity. It’s doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do… consistently. It’s being full of faith in God’s timing and provision. Our faithfulness depends on God’s faithfulness… meaning we have to know and be close to Him to follow Him faithfully.
Gentleness is a superpower. It’s defined as “controlled power”. It’s the power Superman exerts when he could destroy all of our earth but decides to protect it instead. It’s your daughter knowing she could destroy her brother with her sharp words and choosing to encourage him instead. It’s your son controlling his strength to protect his little brother instead of hurting him back. See? Superpower!
We exhibit self-control when we’ve been given training and purpose to do so. Self-control is obedience and doing the right thing.
In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands.”
Obedience = self-control = showing love
And there we are again, back to love… which comes from God. All of these fruit come from God and honor Him when we bear them in His strength.
I often use the fruit of the Spirit as a checklist to see what God is working on in my children’s hearts.
After we recite Galatians 5:22-23 together, I’ll ask them, “Which of the fruit of the Spirit do you most need God’s help to bear today and why that fruit?”
I learn about what their day looks like, what challenges they’re having, and how to pray for them throughout the day (or week or month…).
Focused Fruit Conversations
Sometimes I’ll pick one fruit for the week that we talk about. For example, we’ll talk about which relationships we need the most self-control in and why we need that extra strength from God in those relationships. The next day I’ll ask how they’re doing in the area of self-control in those specific areas. We also talk about people in the Bible who exhibited or lacked self-control and what we can learn from them. We’ll talk about people like Samson, Solomon, and Peter and how their interactions could’ve looked with a little more self-control.
No matter how you teach your children the fruit of the Spirit, I’d suggest starting this summer. It’s a great time to talk about bearing fruit because it will organically come up in conversation as you see more plants bearing fruit and you’ll be eating more fruit together, too!
Let me pray for us about this…
Lord Jesus, thank You for loving us first and bearing ALL the fruit in Your life as an example to us! Please help our children and us to bear Your fruit for others’ benefit and Your glory! In Your Name, Amen
About the author: Beth Meverden loves serving Jesus alongside her husband of 23 years and their three amazing children. Since getting her Bachelors of Arts in Youth Ministry (over 20 years ago), she’s been ministering to teens, children, and their parents in various church ministries and groups in her home and community. You can learn about her weekly devotional blog and other resources which empower parents to train their children to know, love, and share Jesus on her website (BethMeverden.com).
Beth writes regular devotional blog posts and training materials for parents for Family Time Training. She also writes curriculum and articles for the All Life League. You can find some of her resources for youth leaders at DownloadYouthMinistry.com and parents at 1for50.net. She’s also published articles for Focus on the Family magazine and Guide Magazine.
Beth enjoys empowering parents as their children’s primary evangelists and disciple-makers in large groups, small groups, and with moms one-on-one.