Men are not carbon copies one of another. No two are exactly alike.
However, all are homemade. That is, we are shaped by our childhood. Many of our strong points, our weaknesses, our differences trace right back to our home backgrounds.
This is not mere worldly psychology. It is spiritual fact. God has placed serious life-shaping responsibilities in the hands of each parent.
At this point, please turn to our Scripture I John 4:7-21. Read it through carefully. Then we shall relate it to this vital subject.
I. OUR BASIC LIFE-VIEWS ARE DEVELOPED DURING CHILDHOOD
First, please single out the teachings here that bear on one’s basic life-views: Who God is. What He is really like. What does He think of me? What is my relationship to others? What is to be my view of myself? Our text bears on these crucial points.
These are the life-views which are established in our early days of childhood.
Now, correct this false view by letting God speak for Himself: 1) Twice, verses 8, 16, we are told “God is love.” 2) But the poor man we are picturing does not see that. God then proves it. Read verses 9 and 10. Here God sets forth His great love by sacrificing His own Son. 3) Move on to verses 16 and 17. We may now be confident and bold in this great love.
Making those three additions to our picture, changes things!
How important is our view of God! Our text chapter, First John 4, says that love is the very character of God.
Wrong relations with others traces back to wrong attitudes toward God. It also gives to others a distorted picture of our God. How serious this is!
I have sometimes surprised people with whom I have counseled by telling them something about themselves which they did not realize I would know. “You are troubled by certain fears and anxieties, are you not?” “Yes, but how did you know?” – Thus, would go the conversation.
Then, I would explain that because they had been so embittered against their parent, their outflow of love was bound to be impaired. And, verse 18 says, “perfect love drives out fear.” Only love rids us of fear. Tormenting dread crowds into the heart where there is long-standing hatred. Are you very sure you do not hate your parent? Meditate and pray over I John, chapters 3 and 4.
Closely related to this is our own self-image, our sense of security and confidence. Study verse 17.
Furthermore, His love is the source and origin of all our love. His love flows out through us to others. Let me picture it.
Tell me about your child-hood home and I will tell you how you feel toward God, others and even toward yourself. All these viewpoints are developed in childhood.
Now, let the “x” in the center of the circle in the figure above, represent you in your early home. Do you realize that your parents actually represented God in their dealings with you? It was His character, authority, role they were to show you. But the line of revelation is crooked in each home. None are perfect. The same is true of our understanding of others. Our early environment consisted of our brothers and sisters. Here is where we learned how to get along with others. Is the line straight, or crooked with you? Also we observed our parents– how they related to others and whether or not they were critical of friends.
Finally, our opinions of our own worth and abilities were shaped by the bounce-back we received from our first environment. If we were appreciated, valued, loved, encouraged, then we are today probably secure in our slot in life and untroubled by feelings of inferiority. Otherwise….?
Let us now move outward into the larger circle of the adult world. By now our responses are trained. We tend to react in the same jagged manner toward the Father in heaven as we responded to our father on earth. Again, tell me how you feel deep-down toward your own parents and I can tell you how you really feel toward God. And, how do you think He feels toward you?Moving onward, the man who feels insecure and inferior, will invariably be critical and judgmental. He will be jumpy regarding the way he is treated and looked upon by others. His anger will either be explosive or the slow-burn, simmering type of inner agitation, Ephesians 4:26. (The next verse says this gives place, opportunity, advantage to the devil!)
II. OUR BASIC LIFE-VIEWS ARE CHANGED ONLY BY GRACE
There is only a thin line separating between love and hate. I mean, there is no grey area between. We either love or we do not love parents and fellows. Failing to love, we hate and dwell in darkness. See I John 3:14, 15.
Problem attitudes and reactions are virtually programmed into us during childhood. Given similar circumstances and we yield to the same old response patterns. We go into the old routines of resentments, cringing feelings, or responses of lust or anger.
Now, God wants to end this sin. We are to live by revelation, not by reaction. That is, we must learn to stop sinful reactions to people and situations and instead, respond according to truth. From Scripture we learn this truth which so frees us, John 8:3-36.
Our heavenly home and its citizenship is to prevail over that of earth. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10. At the point where our childhood guidance fails, then God in grace will step into a true believer’s life and set Him free by grace.
This freedom can be yours. Call these personality problems by their right name – sin. We may not have planted their roots, but we are responsible to seek God’s relief. Christ died for these very evils and they ought not to prevail. Study 2 Corinthians 5:17 and claim new life in Christ.