GOT KIDS? Protecting their Heart
In my Sunday school class this past Sunday we took time to talk about wisdom and reaching the child who is living the life of a fool in rebellion. Our bent is to use the book of Proverbs and other sources as tools to modify their behavior and not look to the gospel meaning of God’s Word to reach their heart. To blast them with Scripture will only crush them or harden their heart. Jesus, in speaking to the Jews in John 5: 39, 40 states, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
To help our children in their rebellion, we need to bring to them words and questions that will reach in their heart and help them see how Christ offers himself as the means to fulfill what they are seeking. It is through the gospel of Jesus Christ that we find reconciliation, the forgiveness of sins and the mercy that is available and possible for both you the parent and for your child.
Here are some suggestions on getting to the heart:
- Remember that the power of God is Jesus Christ and the gospel (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18). A deeper understanding of the cross of Christ is the pathway to the heart. What tends to get in the way of the cross is moralism where thinking that if we just change some behavior, it will obtain the favor of God. This is just the opposite of the gospel where God’s favor is found in what Christ has done, not us. The parent’s task is not just to get your child to act right but is to bring the gift of Jesus Christ to them. Another obstacle is whose desires are they pursuing? We all are motivated to go after what we want but your child (and you) will need help to change those desires to God-centered desires and what God wants.
- Avoid the focus in your child’s training on the problem and be helping them see solutions. Problems need to be identified but the gospel brings to us the means of restoration. When solutions are determined, ask your child questions regarding what went right rather than focusing on what went wrong. For example, rather than “How did things go for you?” try “What went well for you today?” If they mention things that did not go well, have them think through some of the solutions they can employ.
- Help your child to learn the necessity of repentance and godly sorrow over sin. For the healthy Christian, this is our daily practice. We get to see the power of the cross when through repentance the obstacle of my sin is taken away. Repentance is a work of the Holy Spirit and though an apology may be part of the work of repentance, it is not the totality of it. Repentance is principally the acknowledgement of my sin, the impact of my sin to God and man, and the commitment to turn away from what is offensive to God and to others and move towards restoration. It is a new pathway and is not always a destination.
Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) in his work, “A Cabinet of Choice Jewels,” wrote, All tears of godly sorrow drop from the eye of faith. Godly sorrow rises and falls – as faith rises and falls. The more a man is able by faith to look upon a pierced Christ – the more his heart will mourn over all the dishonors which he has done to Christ. The more deep and wide the wounds are, which faith shows me in the heart and sides of Christ-the more my heart will be wounded for sinning against Christ.