One day, a little girl is sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly notices that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?” she asks. Her mother replies, “Well, every time you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thinks about this awhile, then asks, “So that’s why ALL of Grandma’s hairs are white?”
The next aspect of parenting that is like God’s action towards us is to…
Correct Without Condemning
We all need correction at times because none of us is perfect. The Bible tells us that God does this with us. He corrects us. Hebrews 10:6 says ““The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Hebrews 12:6
It’s important you understand the difference between discipline(correction) and condemnation. God never condemns his children. He disciplines them. All the Condemnation for your sins was taken on one person, Jesus Christ on the cross. All the Condemnation for every wrong you will ever do and every wrong your kids will ever do has already been taken on the cross. That’s why the Bible says in Romans 8:1 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God does not punish his children. He does discipline them.
Discipline is a loving thing. God disciplines.
If I don’t discipline my kids it means the Bible says it means two things:
a. I don’t care enough. Proverbs 13:24 ““He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Refusing to take the time to discipline our children is evidence of a lack of love in our heart. We don’t think of it that way. Sometimes we’re just tired. “I’m too tired; I can’t fight another battle today.” That reveals we’re not caring enough about the child. We’re putting our needs ahead of theirs. We need to take the time to discipline our kids.
b. I’m willing to participate in their destruction Proverbs 19:18 ““Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” It means I’m willing to set them up for failure. If I don’t take the time to correct my kids, if I don’t teach them new habits, if I don’t teach them the right way to behave, the right way to think, I’m actually setting them up to fail and be destroyed.
What is the difference between Condemnation and Correction (discipline)?
The purpose of Condemnation is to inflict penalty, long term. — I want to penalize you for what you’ve done wrong — looking backwards
The purpose of Correction Discipline is to promote growth. I want to correct you, train you, make you better.
The focus of Condemnation is on the past.
The focus of Correction Discipline is on the future. You did wrong in the past and you’re going to be punished for it. I want you to do right in the future, you’re going to be disciplined for it.
The attitude of the parent in Condemnation is anger. We punish out of anger. I’m angry at you!
The attitude behind correction discipline is love: I want you to make it in this world! The Bible says that God punishes the wicked that reject Him but He disciplines His own children. I don’t spank the neighbor’s kids! And God doesn’t mess with the devil’s kids, but He does discipline His own children. Sometimes we get spanked! Spanking is Biblical. The Bible clearly teaches spanking. God uniquely designed little bodies that there is a certain area with extra padding so no long term damage can take place there. But you don’t discipline in anger; you discipline in love.
What’s the result? The result of Condemnation is always fear, guilt and more anger.
The result of discipline is security. I feel security because I know there are parameters and boundaries in my life.
How do you do it? How can we correct them in a way without condemning them?
- Don’t correct in anger. “A fool gives full vent to his anger” Proverbs 29:11 Honestly, when I’m frustrated and angry with my kids, it feels good to let out that frustration. It feels good to jump all over them and get in their face. I’m mad. I’m angry. I’m frustrated with what they’ve done. So there’s actually a release for me of my frustration. To do that is a instant solution. I get instant cooperation and obedience but it does nothing for the long term problem and it actually strains the relationship between me and my kids. It’s the wrong thing to do. This is a weakness in me.
2. Watch your words. Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” Harmful words create hurtful memories. Those words that belittle our weaknesses and our faults and our failings, those words that are spoken in anger are like knives in the heart.
Ultimately a child who feels unloved will get angry. And an angry child will not respond in a positive way to any kind of discipline. If we want our kids to respond to our discipline, we have to start with something even more basic than that.
Love Them Unconditionally
Next to pointing our kids to God, I think the next most important thing we can do is to teach them that God loves them unconditionally. Not only is He the source and the one we run to, our Savior, but He loves us unconditionally. And we love them too. “You’re loved, not because you earned it or deserve it or are good enough, but you’re loved by this family because God put you in this family and you are loved.” Most of us have a really hard time with that. Even though we talk about grace and about God’s unconditional love and we say we know what that’s like, because we haven’t received it in the very core of our being the depth of the love God has for us, we aren’t very good at giving it out to the people in our family. God wants us to spend some time with Him, letting Him love us, letting us understand how much we are loved and in turn give that unconditional love to our kids.
How can we show God’s unconditional love to our families? Two practical ways:
- Forgive them as He has forgiven us. Forgive your kids in the same way He has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and loving to each other, forgiving each other just as God forgave you in Christ.” I like God to forgive me. It feels good. I want God to forgive me. I’m not always ready to give that same kind of forgiveness to other people. Parenting requires massive doses of forgiveness. You’re in a position all the time that you forgive your kids for things that they do.
- Never give up on your child. Believe in him even after he’s lit the fire in the neighborhood. 1 Corinthians 13:7.” “Love always hopes, always perseveres We can face just about anything if we know somebody believes in us. If we know somebody has faith in us, somebody thinks we’re great, somebody thinks we’re going to make it, you can hang on. Families are to do that. We’re to give that kind of love to our kids.
Romans 8 details all the things that cannot separate us from the love of God. It’s unconditional. It’s a forever bond with us. No stupid mistake on our part, no dumb decision, no period of rebellion, no overwhelming doubt, nothing can separate us from that forever bond with God, our Father. As parents we are to develop that same kind of love for our kids. No matter what stupid thing our kids do, no matter how many times they walk away, we believe in them. We give them that unconditional kind of love.
The bottom line in parenting is this: God wants you to treat your kids the way He treats you.
Today, you may be worried about your kids. You may be frustrated about your kids. You may be fearful about the direction one of them is going. You may be discouraged. You may have a broken heart. You may feel like giving up sometimes. Like the book, Where Does A Parent Go To Resign? You don’t. You can’t resign as a parent. You signed on for life.
But if you try to parent in your own power, you’re going to fail. It takes God’s love. Human love runs out. There is a limit to how much you can handle. There’s is a limit to how much you can take. There are days and there are nights when you don’t have any more to give and you know it.
What you need to do is get plugged into God. God is love. He’s the source of all love. When you’re plugged into Him, He’ll give you power and energy and love that you didn’t know you had. In addition, He’ll give you the wisdom you need. So no matter where you feel emotionally about your kids today, Jesus is ready to help. He’s ready to step into the gap, anytime and any where. You just need to ask Him.
The key to becoming a great parent is to become a godly person. How? First you invite Jesus Christ into your life. “Lord, become the manager of my heart.” Second, pray and say, “God, I need Your help daily. I need the wisdom and the love and the patience to be a wise parent.”
Then you need to get the support of other parents. God didn’t meant for you to do the parenting responsibility all by yourself. That’s why we have the family of the church. Join a Growth Group with other parents. Groups have helped Niki and I keep our sanity as we learn we all have similar struggles and to learn together.
I pray you will be the best parent you can be with God’s love and help.