Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Children and grace, mercy and forgiveness

I think the Lord was testing me today to see if I was serious about this training my children in His word stuff. My two oldest were playing checkers today while the two littles colored at the other end of the table. I was on the phone at the time of the offense but excused myself to deal with the impending crisis. The boys were arguing about who had moved their piece where and if they had let go of it and then moved it again. Well, I could have just told them to move the pieces back and redo it all or start the whole game over, or even to just put the game away and get over it. However, God gave me a little insight to use this as a training opportunity. After determining what had been done and why they were arguing, I told each to move his piece where he thought it should be and that from this point forward there was to be no moving a piece twice, no matter what. The youngest stated his offense (after being questioned) and repented, stating he would not do it again. This was not good enough for the oldest, he apparently thought that was unfair and wanted the piece moved back. I explained I was the parent and he was not to challenge my authority or question my punishment, or what he thought was a lack thereof. He continued to throw a crying fit, all the while saying it wasn't fair. I explained to him that his brother had confessed his sin and repented, now it was his opportunity to grow and become like Christ and show his brother grace, mercy and forgiveness. He didn't think so. So, we discussed all the times he had lied to me and that after he had apologized, Jesus had forgiven him of his sin and shown mercy by not giving him the punishment he deserved. We discussed this for awhile and I tried to explain that we were to imitate Christ, not that we would ever be close to being Him, but that we were to follow His example. I explained to him that he was to show his brother love, not return evil for evil, but instead blessing. He was very upset still and I could tell he was not giving in at this moment. So, he was sent to my bedroom to lay down, think about what I had said and pray that God would help him understand and do a work in his heart. He came back into the living room once but his heart was still angry, so I sent him back and told him why. He came in again a little later and said he understood and that he forgave his brother and asked my forgiveness for not respecting me or my authority. I read him the verse about not returning evil for evil and that was where I left it. Now, I can't say what was actually in his heart or that he will never act that way again, but I am grateful that God showed me how to use that as an opportunity to train my children. Yes, I say children because although I was speaking to my oldest, my other three were listening.

I don't tell you this to boast of what I did, because I didn't do anything, God did a work in me today. I don't tell you this for a pat on the back, glory be to God for His work. I simply share this that you might be encouraged to look for opportunities to train your children in His word and show them how we are to imitate Christ, instead of just settling an argument between them.


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