When I became a mom, and especially when I became a homeschool mom, I took a new look at Matthew 7: 16-20:
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (NIV)
I would listen to homeschool speakers who talked to us about our fruit and about having a quiver full of arrows so we could shoot them out to save the world. The implication was that if I, as a Christian parent/homeschooler, raised my kids right, they would be spiritual giants.
This verse was brought to mind again as I watch the very public exposition of a very private matter in the Duggar family. I never watched the show but I was aware of them. They often spoke at homeschool conventions I worked and had rock star status with some homeschool families.
Then it comes out that some of their fruit was rotten and at least one arrow should have been kept in the quiver when he was a teen.
There was a time when I thought I had answers to the puzzlement of parenting. I had strategies and techniques and was determined to have some pretty awesome fruit. My kids were going to be scholars and spiritual giants by the sheer force of my will and effort.
Children are not products. I would often look at the rows of wholesome Duggars and feel a twinge of envy. Gosh darn it, that was some awesome fruit.
Then the truth comes out that they are like every other family. Full of challenges and issues, flawed and weak. We can talk for days about how they handled things, whether they were wise, why they were naive and more. But I’ll leave all that to others.
Or we can pray for them and for all troubled families because we’re all messy sinners in need of our redemptive Lord.
I’ll choose to pray for them and their fruit because I know Jesus loves me and my kiddos, no matter how dysfunctional we are.
And Jesus loves the Duggars too.