Good morning! [Ok, so I realize it is 8:30 at night, but I did have every intention of posting this earlier! What can I say – I have two toddlers. Sometimes I wonder whether I should even make plans for my day : ) ] I am up to chapter four today in the book “Give Them Grace.” Here are the quotes that I chose to focus on in my devotions this morning.
“Please don’t misunderstand; we’re not saying [that parents should never give their children any commands.] Every faithful parent must give their children guidance, direction, rules and commands. What we are saying is that these things are not to be the primary theme of our teaching. The primary theme is to be Jesus Christ and the work he’s already done.”
“Yes, give them God’s law. Teach it to them and tell them that God commands obedience. But before you are done…explain again the beautiful story of Christ’s perfect keeping of it for them. Jesus Christ was the only one who ever deserved to hear, “You are good,” but he relinquished his right relationship with the law and his Father and suffered as a lawbreaker. This is the message we all need to hear, it is the only message that will transform our hearts.”
“One encouragement we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and he’s strong enough to make us want to do the right thing. Our encouragement should always stimulate praise for God’s grace rather than for our goodness.”
“We will also give God’s law to our children who say they are saved to make them thankful for Christ’s perfect keeping of it in their place. When they fail to obey, they can thank God that their relationship with him isn’t predicated upon their obedience but upon Jesus’ obedience. Even their sin can be an occasion to remind them that their Savior is praying for them and that their sin won’t ever separate them from him or his love for them.”
“Our idolatry (when the desire for good/saved children consumes us)is a symptom of a deeper problem; unbelief. We simply don’t believe that God is good enough to entrust with our children’s souls or that he’s wise enough to know what will make us ultimately happy and satisfied. We have far too high a view of our ability to shape our children and far too low a view of God’s love and trustworthiness. So we multiply techniques and try to control the outcome. We subconsciously hope that by our “righteousness,” we will obligate God to make everything turn out the way we want. Honestly, it’s no wonder that all the women sitting around the park with their kids need a nap so badly. Idolatry, like all sin, is devastating to the soul. It cuts us off from the comforts of grace, the peace of conscience, and the joy that is to be our strength. “
These are my take away thoughts. (And I found them a timely help today – apparently the boys wanted to test my sactification : )
1) There need to be clear, biblically-based rules in my home. And when the rules are broken, there needs to be an appropriately painful consequence. This mirrors the law of God. And the law was given for a purpose.
2) This is the purpose! Just like the law crushed my own heart and made me realize my need for a savior (Rom 3:20), the law must be presented to Jack and Brenn so that they can feel it’s crushing effect as well (Gal 3:10-11, Rom 7:10 – even though Paul tried to obey the law he constantly failed). But when I instruct Jack and Brenn, I don’t focus on the rule-breaking. I focus on the one who came to take the ultimate punishment for all those broken rules (I John 1:17). The law leads back to Christ (Rom 10:4). Christ is the answer to all the broken rules, all the “not being good’s,” all the “how could you DO that’s!” and all the parenting fails that accompany those moments.
3) It must be clear to Jack and Brenn that I realize both my own inadequacy and God’s amazing, daily grace (Heb 4:16). If I expect them to acknowledge their sin, I must acknowledge my sin. If I expect them to praise God for his goodness and grace, then I must do the same. If I want them to know that in my own strength I cannot please God, then I must tell them that (John 15:5). My children will know what I believe by the way that I act towards myself. And I can’t just do these things in my head. I must do them out loud (Deut 6:7-9) so that they can see and hear me (and go running off to Grandma and describe all Mama’s sin in detail no doubt : ).
4) The sovereignty of God promises the truth that the future of my children does not rest in my hands. I can certainly affect the context of their lives, and thereby influence the way that they understand God and his word, but ultimately, it is God’s choice to regenerate them and God’s Spirit that will speak truth into their hearts (James 1:18).
Hope these thoughts encourage you as you seek to glorify God in your parenting! They were a blessing to me!