04/22/15-I’m Warning You
2 Corinthians 13 When do I yell and when do I just stay calm? This is useful knowledge for parents to acquire. It’s so tempting to yell, but if you do it too often, pretty soon it will just go in one ear and out the other.
I have a little friend, age 2, who recently discovered how much fun it is to pour a glass of water on the floor. His father wanted to shout, “What were you thinking?” But he has learned that it’s wiser to stay calm, hand the child a paper towel and teach him how to clean up his own mess. This takes most of the fun out of it and the behavior seems to have ended itself.
When we had teens at home we told them that we had issued them, at birth, coupons which they could redeem for a reasonable number of errors, mistakes and just plain boneheaded actions. When they dented the car or lost something expensive, so long as we knew they were attempting to put things right, instead of scolding them we took a deep breath, smiled and said, “That’s a coupon.” Knowing we were not going to get mad and yell, they seemed to be willing to listen to us when we did have something serious to say.
There are times, however, when we see our children preparing to make a terrible mistake, one that can have life-altering consequences. Those are the times we need to raise our voices, use strong words and warn them against the dangers ahead. A few weeks ago, a young neighbor took a handgun to his friend’s house, where they pretended to shoot things, and each other, with a supposedly unloaded gun.Perhaps if one of their dads had dropped by at that point, he would have raised his voice and warned the boys not to treat the gun like a toy. Alas, no such warning voice was heard, and now a young man lies dead, leaving behind him a lifetime of sorrow and regret.
This strong voice of warning is what we seem to hear in Chapter 13 of 2 Corinthians. Paul has written two long letters to the church in Corinth; admonishing them, praising them, encouraging them, instructing them, pleading with them. Now as he writes the last few lines to them he is struck with the fear that all his work and care has been for naught, and he seems to be raising his voice.
“I already gave you a warning….on my return I will not spare those who sinned…Christ is not weak in dealing with you…Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith….Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong…This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh…” 2 Cor. 13:1-10 excerpts
This is the voice of an anxious and fearful parent, who sees his child heading for the precipice. We know it’s a parent’s voice because of what follows:
“Finally, brothers, good-bye…Greet one another with a holy kiss…May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Cor. 13:11-14 exerpts
And then, like every good parent, I’m sure he sent the letter off with tears and prayers. What else can a parent do?