The Gospel isn't for Obedience Training
It doesn’t make Jesus happy when you...
It’s a phrase I’ve heard many times from well meaning parents and in my early parenting days I may have said it once or twice myself.
Let’s say that little Johnny refuses to share a ball with his sister. His sister cries and gets the attention of her mother. Her mother asks Johnny to please share and gently reminds him that it doesn’t make Jesus happy when we don’t share.
Innocent enough, right? Actually what Johnny’s mother has just done is a manipulation of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a tool for behavior modification, rather an overwhelming gift of whole life transformation.
Diluting the power of the gospel and tying it to an expected response from a child leads the child to believe that their value comes from their actions. It suggests to them that the love and acceptance of Christ is based on their performance.
Hear this, the root of Johnny’s unwillingness to share is selfishness. No one had to teach him to be selfish, he came from his mothers womb that way. Selfishness is sinful and it should be called sin. Correctly identifying sin helps us teach the child that misbehavior is always linked to a heart issue. By addressing the underlying sin we can then discuss the need for a Savior.
In this way we teach the child that sin needs a remedy. The only remedy for the selfishness in Johnny’s heart is the gospel.
My concern is that we only discuss the gospel when we are teaching obedience. Rather the gospel should be permeating every conversation, action and moment of our parenting season.
The gospel is transforming from cell to limbs and we lessen its power by only associating it with obedience training.
Jesus Christ didn’t give his life by crucifixion to create a world of well mannered, obedient people. He gave his life to save us from death and to create vessels to be used for his glory.
The gospel should be taught holistically and constantly. It should be the loudest voice in our homes. It is my prayer that my children would say that their mama was always talking about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
From breakfast to bedtime let us preach the gospel in our homes without hesitation- not for behavior modification but whole person transformation.
The gospel will do the work in changing their hearts and producing righteousness in their acts.
Address the misbehavior, identify the sin at it’s root and call it out by name. Help your child identify the reason for their actions and then they will begin to recognize their need for a Savior.