If you want to ruin your kids, all you have to do is pretend you are perfect. Appear before everyone as perfect. Love the praise of men. Expect so much more from others than yourself. Act nice outside the home, but harsh and mean inside the home. Our kids can smell this deception a mile away.
So, what is the cure? The gospel!
However, this is more complicated than it sounds. Because it will be tempting to push the gospel to the side in our parenting and act like we have it all together all the time. And you want to know why? Because we are afraid! We are afraid our children will go toward the dark side and try out things they shouldn’t unless they see us as these perfect beings. So we shelter them from anything that might ever tempt them, and we get all nasty over other people’s sins.
This is our pathetic attempt at pushing our children to righteousness, and hoping they refuse the evil. The problem is, it doesn’t help them one bit. It gives them the impression that YOU live in a fairy tale world, while THEY know in their own hearts temptation, struggle, sin and darkness. And so they learn to hide it and try to fake it for you. But one day, when they have had enough of the game, they will rebel and go after these desires in their heart.
Our children can’t grow up thinking we skip through the daisies with a cheesy smile on our face, as if we have it all together and we never do anything wrong. They need to know that we sin, we are tempted, we fail, we are lazy, we struggle, we hurt, and we are very weak at times. And then they need to know where real power and grace our found. They need to know the God who loves them and gave himself for them, despite the darkness of their sin. They need to know that perfection isn’t the standard, but rather trusting in the Lord and the power of his might is the standard. They need to know that you understand their struggle, their temptations, their wrestling with sin, and where it is they find the grace and strength to prevail.
This is why, with parenting, if you want it to have an impact on your child, you need the gospel. Which means, we clearly understand and teach our children to own their sin, and understand what it deserves. And then, in light of that, we need to brightly shine the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus. Our children need see that our acceptance before God has NOTHING to do with our righteousness, or our works, but is purely because of the work of Jesus.
But we can’t stop there, because Jesus didn’t just make us forgiven and acceptable, we have to seek to teach our children that Jesus dealt with the power of sin, and has given us his Spirit. Now we can walk according to the Spirit, if we set our minds on the things of the Spirit. And when we live according to the Spirit, we have power.
So when the gospel is the fundamental paradigm by which we parent, our parenting will have God’s blessing all over it.