Do your kids think they can earn your acceptance by obedience?

Posted on August 13, 2015 · Posted in Gospel, Parenting

If obedience does not produce acceptance, then why bother to obey or attempt to excel? Why bother to obey if a child cannot earn your favor, or God’s favor?

True obedience is a response to being shown love and mercy. I obey because I want to see my Savior’s reputation enhanced on earth.  I obey because it means participating in the only thing that truly matters, living for the glory of God.

Some might say, “Well that is fine for me, but what about my children who have not yet professed faith? Why should they obey?”

The answer is the same, because obedience that flows from a response to the mercy of God is the only form of obedience that is not in some way self-serving. Living for the glory of God is unnatural. It cannot be accomplished by human effort alone. Mercy-based obedience shows our dependence upon Christ. Loving your little brother when he is truly unlovable can only be done by seeing your own need of Christ first. Obedience that has the goal of living for God’s glory will make the cross a necessity.

No, your children can’t produce this type of obedience in their own strength. This is the point of the gospel – we are in need of Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  This is why every call for obedience must also be a call for repentance and embracing the gospel. This is what separates biblical parenting from the what the world has to offer. This keeps Christ at the center of your parenting. This is the type of obedience that is pleasing to God.

Don’t settle for the world’s deceptive substitute, which says that obedience means you will be happy; that is merely self-serving. Obedience that is taught with the goal to bring honor to God will drive your children to Christ because it cannot be done in their own strength.

Don’t make obedience into something that is self-serving. Make obedience about living for God and his honor. This will allow your instruction to focus on hope rather than performance!

Shepherding a Child's Heart DVD 2014

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.