Growing Together in Love and Grace

family shadowBelieve it or not, every now and then my kids will do or say something that literally makes me cringe. The reason I say this is because in that moment I see a reflection of either something they have heard me say or seen me do. 

A good and somewhat amusing example of this was once when we were eating out at a local restaurant, one of my daughters (who was four or five at the time) was talking with the lady in the booth directly behind us. In the middle of charming the lady with her cuteness, my daughter out of the blue exclaims, “You’re teeth are yellow and fuzzy, you need to go brush um.” As you can imagine I just about wanted to crawl under the booth. 

I immediately apologized to the lady and she very graciously went on to explain to my daughter that she does brush her teeth, but sometimes at her age they just don’t stay white anymore. Phew, I totally believe God gives us kids to help keep us humble. And yes, this is something I tell my kids as a reminder to go brush their teeth in the morning. I also tell them that nobody likes to look at yellow fuzzy teeth. I’m so glad my daughter chose not to include that part in her little speech!

The reason I share this is because it goes to show you that kids are directly influenced by what by what they see and hear.  They will often mimic the behavior they are most influenced by, both the good and the bad. It can be quite a sobering moment when you realize that they are more like little absorbent sponges than we tend to think about.

From the very beginning of time, God provided the framework of a family unit and he chose to use the family as a training ground for life. In Proverbs 22:6 we as parents are commissioned to . . . “Train up a child in the way he should go”. . .   So much of who we are as individuals is directly related to how we are raised. Throughout the bible we see the effects of parents actions on their children in both the good and the sometimes not so good ways. I’m so thankful that God gives us these examples in the bible so that we can learn from their lives.

Our homes should be a place of safety and respite from the world where we can put into practice the things which God teaches us in his Word. It’s a place to grow together and to learn how to effectively do life as a family by loving God and loving each other. Within the closeness and confinement of the family unit, God wants us to live out our faith in front of our children.

When our kids see us with a heart poised for following God, chances are they will follow suit. As we seek to walk in obedience to the things of God, we are training them to do the same. In James 1:22 we are told . . .But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. God doesn’t want us to be Sunday only Christians, he wants us living for him daily, hourly, moment by moment. God wants us walking a life surrendered to him and all that he has for us.

One thing that I’ve learned from being a parent over the last sixteen years, is that our kids see our actions so much more than they hear our words. If we speak one thing and then live another way, they pick up on the hypocrisy and are actually turned off towards the things of God. We have to work to be the change we want to see in our children.

Let me tell you I by no means do I have it all together nor do I claim to. I’m a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace and I fail daily, but with God nothing is ever wasted. When we have a heart to follow after him he uses all things for his glory. When we experience failures ourselves, these are perfect teachable moments where we can humble ourselves and teach our children to have a right heart attitude of repentance and then forgiveness and in doing so we are training them to do the same before God. 

The greatest lesson I am learning is that God is parenting me as I parent my children. God often uses my family to speak into my life and to show me areas that are needing work. The family unit provides us the framework to practice his unconditional love towards one another. Keeping a humble attitude before your spouse and children is a vital trait that keeps us humble before our Sovereign God.

God is the only perfect parent and as we seek to follow him and train our children to know and follow him, he uses the family relationship to show us more of who he is and his great love for us and most importantly the amazing grace he has for each of us as we continue to grow in love and grace together.

Father God I thank you for your amazing love for us. I thank you for providing the family unit as a place to know you and grow in our relationship with you. Thank you that you continue to teach us as we seek to teach our children your ways. Thank you most of all for sending your Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin so that we can be made right with you and for the amazing grace you so richly lavish on us. Help us to be the kind of parents you want us to be. We thank you for who you are and all you do for us. In your precious name we pray! AMEN

So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors. Deuteronomy 11:18-21

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