How many times have I told you..

Posted on November 26, 2013 · Posted in Gospel, Parenting

The Bible says love does not keep a record of wrongs.  Yet, a parent cannot deny the reality that her child failed to come when called 6 times in an afternoon. Does this mean the mother was wrong to keep count? 


Yes and no. 


Yes, if all she does is repeat to her daughter the number of times she disobeyed. No, if she realizes that the significance of repeated sins is that her child should be repeatedly confronted with her need of the gospel. When sin happens, the commendation of the gospel is always appropriate. The gospel is not so much the repetition of the four spiritual laws, as it is the constant reminder that Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and rose again from the dead so that we may have hope that we don’t have to keep doing the wrong things.


When you sin or your children sin, it is not helpful to be told this is the eighth time you have repeated this sin.  What is helpful is to be lovingly challenged with the reality that Christ died so that sinners would no longer have to be slaves to sin. Parents, you should never tire of saying these words of hope. In this way you avoid the frustration of constantly saying, “how many times have I told you not to do that.” There is no need to be surprised at the reoccurrence of sin! 


When those whom we love sin against us, it is rarely a new form of sin. It is almost always something we have seen before. Frustration that answers repeated sins with how could you do this to me again is not love. To our spouses or to our children this type of answer comes across as self-righteous frustration. We appear to be upset that our wisdom has been ignored. Again, this is not love. Love realizes that fighting sin is a life-long battle. Love says let me work with you so that this sin does not dominate your life. Love says how can I be better a better mom or dad or spouse to help you honor God more quickly.


In other words, love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love proclaims the power of the gospel no matter how many times disobedience occurs.  


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.