According to Deut.6:5, we are to love The Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. In other words, with everything that is within us. Proverbs 4:23 says that from our hearts flows the issues of life. And Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. He also said that is was from the heart that all evil springs. Jesus was constantly making statements that would expose the lusts, desires and ambitions of the heart. He wasn’t impressed with outward conformity and the religion men could see.
As parents, we also need to address the heart and not just the outward actions. Because it is with the heart that one believes the gospel and follows God. So if you don’t get to the heart of your child, your are missing the whole point of your discipleship.
For example, our child can have a desire to please others, and because of that come across as very obedient. And yet, because of social pressure, one day they disobey God before so that they don’t disappoint or become disrespected by others. This can have so many horrible ramifications.
To help with how we get at the heart of our child, we need to identify the two basic motivates of the heart that move us all. And they are: fear and love. We either move forward because we are afraid of the consequences, afraid of what others will think, afraid of not being accepted, or some other fear, or we move forward because we love the person or thing, or we are passionate about the person or thing.
A child might pick on another child because he wants to be accepted by the cool kids. But he also might protect the other child because he longs to be seen as the hero and gain the respect of his peers. Both are wrong motives that lead to completely different actions. One is a bad action and the other a good action. But what our children don’t understand, and perhaps we don’t either, is that both will produce a bondage and a slavery because they are motivated by a fear and love of people. And here is why: The person or thing we love and fear the most, is the person or thing we serve. However, if it is not God, it brings with it a bondage and slavery that leads to death.
Have you ever been around a group of people you feared being rejected by? What did that do to you? Did it liberate and free you? Did it energize and enliven you? Did it make you happy? NO! It made you insecure, it felt like your were imprisoned by your own stupidity. You ended up saying dumb things or couldn’t talk at all. It probably caused you to hate yourself, and made you miserable. So to fear and to love anyone or anything above God is to be brought into bondage and death. It is an awful experience. And none of us are exempt from it.
This is why, as Christian parents, we have to shepherd the hearts of our children and watch what they fear and love, and show them the way of liberty and life. They need to know that it is only by loving and fearing God that they are set free. Loving and fearing anything or anyone above him will always bring bondage and death.
Read more from Dean’s series ‘Building a Better Family’