I was hurt. I’m big enough to admit that. Her words had cut me to the core and I was inwardly aching. I now had two options. I could give in to my sinful nature and show her just how badly she had made me feel. Or lead her to Christ. It all depended on my purpose of reproof.
Let’s face it. Sometimes my children can be hurtful little creatures. Let me be clear, we’re not talking simple mistakes or saying things which can embarrass us. No, this is outright rebellion, disrespect, and meanness. It comes as a shock when my children step out-of-bounds. Generally, they are very pleasing and wonderful to be around. But, every once in a while…
When my children step out-of-bounds, I need to step back from the initial impact of emotion and assess the situation. How I react in this moment will either help my children draw closer to God and bring us back into a right relationship, or it will deepen the chasm. I need to understand that, just like myself, my children are still a work in progress. God is not done with them yet. Being children, they also lack maturity. If I am leaning on the grace of God in my own life, how much more should I extend grace to my children?
If my heart is for my children to feel guilty, hurt, and/or ashamed of what they did, I too need correction. It is not my job to act like the Holy Spirit in my children’s lives. It is to lead them to Christ, allowing Him to do a work in them. I cannot do this when I am more focused on my own emotions and desires than seeing them have a right relationship with God.
Yes, I am hurt. But, so are they. Acting out is merely a sign of a deeper issue. When I remove the obstacle of my emotion, asking the Lord to lead, God is able to work through me. The purpose is to restore my children to a righteous relationship with Him. Not to vent, make them feel badly, or punish.
Does this mean my children’s actions never deserve consequences? Goodness, no! Consequences can and should be given. Children need to experience the just response to disobedience. But, there is a significant difference between just discipline and me lashing out. One is righteous and good; the other hurtful. The purpose of reproof is to help draw my children near to God. If I cannot do this – or have a hard heart – it might be the moment to step back, correcting when my heart is in the right place.
To be fair, when the dust settles, often my children are shocked by their own outbursts. They know they behaved badly and regret their choices. They don’t always know why they reacted so strongly. Here is an opportunity for maturity and growth.
May the grace of God fill me, and each of us; helping to remove those pesky emotions which love to take dominion over the heart. May we lead with mercy, discipline with love, and constantly seek to draw our children closer to God.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
~ Hebrews 12:11
Your Turn!: How are you inspired to help your children draw closer to God in moments of difficulty?