By Tedd Tripp
from Instructing a Child’s Heart.
Because the problem of sin is deeper than the wrong things we do and say, sin problems can only be solved by grace. Since our problem is internal, sin cannot be remedied by “getting one’s act together.” Only grace can bring radical heart transformation.
When the heart receives appropriate attention, children will not be able to escape how profoundly they need grace. If they see that their problem is bigger than behavior, they are delivered from superficial views of the Christian life.
Our children’s needs are the same as our needs.
We need the heart transplant surgery that is promised in the grace of the new covenant, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols” (Ezek. 36:25). Our impure thoughts and motives show how profoundly we need cleansing.
Verse 26 continues, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” What does this mean? Grace brings radical internal change. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Both our children and we need change that is radical and thorough. When a child has gained renewed interest in a toy simply because a brother would like it, that child is exhibiting a stony heart. That hardness of heart will not be melted through anything other than grace. Manipulation of behavior through rewards or punishments will never touch the stony heart. Only grace can change the heart. What encouragement! The very thing that we need is the focal point of God’s work.
Not only do we need internal change, we also need empowerment. God has promised, “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezek. 36:27). We know what we ought to do, but we cannot do it apart from grace. We have the assurance that God’s grace empowers us.
Ezekiel 36 speaks of everything we need before God: forgiveness and cleansing, radical internal change, and empowerment. The more profoundly our children know the dark caverns of the heart, the more profoundly they will understand their need for grace.
From Instructing a Child’s Heart.