1 John 4:7-12
The other day, my sister and I attempted a shopping trip together to a nearby city. It was crazy. We were outnumbered by children and were lacking in strollers and hands to deal with all the insanity. It was tough. Thankfully a dear friend met us at the mall and enjoyed shopping with us and evening our numbers ( she is always wonderful and fun and my kids (and I) love her).
On the drive there we were talking about parenting and the things that we are already learning and changing our viewpoints on.
We talked a little about trying to show God's love and mercy to our children and what we feel that looks like.
I believe that the best way to show God's love to our children is to show them that our love is constant.
Please do not read that as that we should never discipline them and that we should be their friend. I am not my kids friends, I am something better, I am their mom. I get to be like a friend in that I play with them, they trust me and I will be a confidant, etc. But I am not their friend, and I don't want to be.
Showing our children that our love is constant is done by always communicating our love. When they do something right, praise them and tell them how amazing God has made them, praise the Father for the person He made your kids to be. When they do something mediocre, tell them how wonderful they are and how God created them to do that and so much more, that there is no limit to what they can do with the help of the Creator. When they have done something that is wrong, show them and tell them that you still love them. When we have made a mistake, apologize and tell them that you should have respected them and shown them love better. Speak to their love language, fill them with love anyway you can think of.
It is not possible to love them too much or show them too much love. A child who feels loved by their parents understands more easily the love of the Heavenly Father.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
The second best thing we can do for our children is to be consistent. They need to know where the boundaries lie and what will happen when they cross them.
God gave the Israelites rules, boundaries, and laws, He told them what must be done, and what the consequence was for disobedience.
My parents raised us constantly saying, "If you do this..... then this .....will happen." There was always a consequence laid out for our actions, we always knew what it was and that it would be followed through on. Consistency is key.
There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
God told them if they did this....then he would not do that....
They made their choices and he followed through on his consequence.
He punished them. He gave the Israelites a forty year time out (basically).
“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signsI performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ I, theLord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.”
God expects obedience. He is loving and lenient (sometimes), but there is always a consequence for disobedience. It may not be that we get eaten by a giant fish, or that we living for forty years in the desert, but we could miss out on opportunities to see the glory of the Lord and see the amazing things that He can do through us. Our children will benefit from us following Gods example. Lenience in some situations is okay, obedience needs to be expected, and love needs to be constant.
Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
The best thing I have ever learned about teaching children obedience is that obedience is not just doing what we are told, it is doing it immediately, the first time we are asked, and without a bad attitude. (Like I talked about in Swallowed by a Fish)
"Partial obedience is still disobedience."