Rightly Sizing Up Others - Helping Our Children to Navigate Relationships

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we strive to teach our students to think deeply and biblicaly about the human condition.

By Bobby Scott, Perimeter School Headmaster

One of the 20 principles of education that our mentor Charlotte Mason gave is as follows:

Children are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and for evil.

This statement was not a theological position on the nature of children. It was a response to those of her time who believed that disadvantaged children from squalid conditions were not capable of choosing right from wrong and thus were a waste of time to educate. Because she believed every child was created in the image of God, she felt that children could choose wisely or poorly, based on factors such as education, nurture, parental influence, and the common grace of God given to persons indiscriminately.

RIGHTLY SIZING UP OTHERS

Teaching our children how to wisely size up other people begins with teaching them to rightly size up themselves. Events in our nation of late illustrate both the complications and the cautions we must take.

Let’s suppose that King David had been nominated for the Supreme Court. The elders of the Jews were to examine all his deeds, his character, and his writings like the Psalms, but someone also pointed out his previous sexual aggression and adultery with Bathsheba. Would he have received 52 votes? Or suppose it was Rahab, whose name is listed in Hebrews among the great men and women of faith? If someone leaked information of her former occupation, would she have been confirmed? Obviously, these are not flawless examples, but they do illustrate a point.

The sad state of discourse in our country today is that it did not seem to matter to either side to truly discover the truth in the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing, because their preconceived conviction was that one of them was a lying, evil person and the other a credible hero and role model. Putting aside the media circus and the common indecency of it all, this unfortunate situation shows how we can view people at biased extremes.

In a Christianity Today article, Brondyn Lea states:

“Humans are capable of both egregious sin and tremendous good, and when our political discourse leads us to vilify or canonize people, we’ve overlooked or overemphasized either one or the other - sin or goodness. If we find ourselves continually drawing fixed conclusions along partisan lines, it suggests that our red-tinted or blue-tinted spectacles are preventing us from thinking deeply and biblically about the human condition.”

WE ARE GLORIOUS RUINS WITH POSSIBILITIES FOR GOOD AND EVIL

The late pastor and theologian Francis Schaeffer, father of our school’s mentor Susan Macaulay, called us “glorious ruins,” consistent with Mason’s axiom, “with possibilities for good or evil.”

Everyday our children are involved in relationships with others at school and in their activities. Seeds can be planted when they are young to help them have convictions in relationships but not to quickly vilify (they are totally depraved!) or to glorify (their hearts are so good!) anyone.

Some other insights that can be added to the library of wisdom for our children:

  1. The best place to find the picture of a sinner is to look in the mirror. But we should also leave room for self-forgiveness, repentance, and the joy of seeing Christ in ourselves and others.

  2. Two more of the great leaders of the church, Peter and Paul, would have missed confirmation as well. Both pointed us to look at Jesus alone for the unwavering picture of godly character.

  3. There are times that it is wise to judge the character of others, but we must remember that love does not depend upon the proper behavior of others for its continuance.

  4. In your life, expect to be totally fooled by a person you trusted, but do not let this caution make you unable to trust anyone. There is renewal possible for we are untrustworthy as well.

  5. Don’t let the size of a crowd or a majority opinion convince you of the character of a person. Even Jesus was falsely condemned by a large crowd calling to “crucify Him!”

  6. Remember “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” even those things called persons.