You just became impatient with your nine-year-old. He was slow doing his part of the spring yard work. You snapped at him and told him if he didn’t work harder he would lose his computer privileges for six months. You immediately felt guilty. Here are some of the ways in which you might respond if you are not engaging in genuine repentance and renewal:
1. You think that you shouldn’t feel guilty because he really is being slow. You know you should not have snapped, but he should have worked faster, so you say nothing.
2. You are embarrassed about snapping but reluctant to acknowledge it to your son, so again, you say nothing.
3. You feel guilty for snapping, so you apologize profusely and tell him that the work he did was great and that you really didn’t mean he couldn’t use the computer. Then you say why doesn’t he take the rest of the afternoon off and you will finish up his part of the work.
4. You apologize for snapping, but tell him that you have a lot to do, and he really needs to get with the program and show you that he cares about doing his work, because that is what he should do to honor God.
Not only do these responses not help your son, they do not help you or your relationship with God. In none of these hypothetical responses has the parent drawn any closer to God. In none of these responses has there been true repentance. There has been some remorse, but the underlying anger and frustration remain. You have not grown closer to God and your son has not grown closer to you.
What the Holy Spirit teaches in Psalm 51:11-13 is that when you immediately acknowledge sin as sin, you have the opportunity for true repentance and forgiveness, and for your relationship with God and your son to be restored.
Here is what the conversation might sound like when you follow that model:
“Son, I was wrong to snap. I wasn’t trusting God or being kind or helpful to you. Would you please forgive me for snapping? Thank you! Great! Now, let’s talk about why things are going slowly with the yard work. Let me know what you think you or I could do differently.”
This parent has acknowledged sin for what it is. Therefore:
He is confident in the power of Christ’s salvation.
He knows that because of what Christ did on the cross, his sin of snapping is truly forgiven.
He knows that he can reach out to his son.
And he knows that because of biblical forgiveness he can immediately begin to help his son with his struggles.
Don’t be dominated by your sin. Rather, be dominated by the power of God and his Son. God has given you a way to conquer sin in the middle of everyday life.