Parents, when your children sin and they are not respectful to you, how do you feel? Do you focus on how painful it is to be disrespected? The most natural, ordinary response is to consider the disrespect an offense against yourself. You might well respond in anger and frustration. This is what ordinary parents do. You might get angry at them. You might just let your children know how painful this is for you. You might yell. You might walk around in silent pain. You might tell your kids they have gone too far this time. All these responses would be ordinary and totally understandable. But, if respond as an ordinary parent would, you associate God with the ordinary actions of ordinary people.
God is not ordinary, but extraordinary! This means as a parent, you must not settle for ordinary.
When you give in to anger, resentment or self-pity at your children’s bad behavior, you make yourself the center of the problem. You are loving yourself first and most. This makes you ordinary. Don’t miss this: You and your hurt feelings are not the primary issue. Your primary concern must be to see that honoring God is your focus and the focus of your kids.
To be extraordinary, you must love your kids enough to show them the danger of their behavior. They need to see that their first problem is with God, and only secondarily with you. You must be more concerned for them than for yourself, and you must be concerned most of all for God. By modeling patience, love, self-control—and all the fruit of the Spirit—you teach your children how extraordinary God is. You will honor God instead of yourself. You must trust God and not give into anger.
Trust must be practiced; it is not automatic. To show God as holy requires trust. Often it is not easy. That is why you must prepare for your children’s bad behavior. You must respond to sin in a way that honors God first, even when all your emotional responses are telling you to lash out or to give up. Trusting God when you are sinned against is an act of holiness. In your everyday life there will come times when your children’s sin takes you by surprise. Prepare for that time so that your talk will show your God to be a holy God. Make your everyday talk holy, not ordinary. Learn from Moses when he became angry and ordinary at the disrespectful actions of the Israelites:
But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Numbers 20:12
One last observation: these same principles also apply to marriage relationships.