Children Thrive on Hope

Posted on May 6, 2013 · Posted in Gospel, Parenting, Shaping Influences

Children are just like their parents, they require hope to thrive. Perhaps the greatest enemy of hope is performance. Performance is also the great enemy of the gospel. To take this progression one additional step; performance is the great enemy of your children.

This statement appears to raise a contradiction. If children are to obey their parents, how can we not talk about performance? This is exactly the right question! The answer may surprise you. To be distinctly biblical, obedience must be connected to hope, not to performance.

Too often, the message children receive about obedience is this:
“Obey or face the consequences.”

This should not be the theme of biblical obedience. Ephesians 6:1-3 is a wonderful passage to encourage children to obey. But, please look carefully at the words and the encouragement in the passage. Paul is not saying:

“Children obey or else you will be in big trouble.”

He is saying obey your parents and you will be blessed. Wow, what a difference in perspective! This should not be a surprise, given the truth of the gospel. The message of the gospel is good news. Jesus died for your sins. He suffered the consequences of your sins. He paid the price of your disobedience so that you could live a life that is not motivated by performance but by gratitude.

The gospel does not invite you to be saved so that you can perform in order to please God. It says that since your performance is unworthy, Jesus died for your sins and offers you the grace needed to bring honor to your heavenly father. That is hope!

This the hope that your children need to thrive. Performance motivation robs your children of hope, because then can never be good enough to overcome their sin.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.