“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5: 8
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinance.” Ezekiel 36:26
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5,6
We were in the thick of the teaching and training of a feisty, stubborn, 2 year old. He was my hard to handle child, and he answered most of my requests with the question “Why?” or “No!” On this particular evening he was standing in front of our fireplace, huge tears streaming down his chubby cheeks, because his parents would not allow him to touch the fire! Each time he crossed the designated “don’t go past this point” line, he would be met with an undesirable consequence. The battle continued until he reached the point where he would stand, toes firmly planted on the line, crying because he couldn’t have what he desired! His father and I calmly explained to him the danger involved with fire, told him that we loved him, and that we wanted to protect him. Still, the tears continued to flow because he had been denied his heart’s desire.
God has brought this somewhat comical scenario to mind many times over the years, when I have felt disappointed or upset over circumstances that were not exactly what I had wanted. It has served as a reminder to me that we can all behave very much like that stubborn 2 year old, often wanting something that God is withholding from us for our own good. When I am reminded of how patient and loving God has been with me, it reminds me that I am not much different than my own children when they were toddlers. We have all been born into a sin cursed world, our flesh often crying out for things that could potentially cause us harm.
On a daily basis, God lavishes me with His riches and blessings when I don’t deserve them, when I have done nothing to earn it, when I have not heeded His warnings, and I have even resisted His counsel. We have an amazing privilege and opportunity to teach our children what the meaning of grace is by putting it into action as we interact with them through every season of their lives, as we respond to them in the challenges of daily life— even when they resist authority, even when they make mistakes. As they navigate the battles of life, they need us to extend grace to them daily and celebrate with them in times of victory.
We see in God’s Word that when Jesus looked at the heart of sinners, his primary goal was for there to be a changed heart and that there be reconciliation with God. Paul says, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” . God’s focus is restoration. Consequences? Of course! But always with the goal of restoration! As a parent, if this is our goal, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us as we live life with our children. Interacting with our children in this way will bring God’s grace into each moment – even the difficult ones!
I often pray that God will enable me to see my children (and others!) through “eyes of grace”. As he enables me to see them in this way, I find that my frustration and irritation is replaced with a desire to connect with my children and show them the same grace that God shows me every day! I see them in a different light when I realize that a huge part of my calling as a parent is to come along side my kids in their process of growth, and to treat them in the way I desire to be treated in my own process of growth! The way God treats me on a daily basis.
We can choose to have a rigid, rule-oriented, performance-driven environment, or we can choose to have a flexibly structured, grace-filled home. We give our children a priceless gift when we choose to become their biggest cheerleader and support system. Celebrating our children and showing them the same grace we have experienced from our God helps us to view our kids as more than just our children who need to be raised, but as precious people who need to be pointed to Christ.
Am I living out God’s grace toward my children and remembering that I am a sinner that needs God’s grace? Is my child’s heart attitude most important to me? Am I coming along side my children and praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me as I live life with them? Lets pray that God will open our eyes to how we can live a grace filled life with our children, pointing them to our Savior.