The first and most important thing about parenting is being a Christian. And the most important thing about being a Christian is trusting Jesus minute-by-minute to be your Savior. He is your Savior in justification and Your Savior in sanctification (Colossians 2:6). Why is that so important? Because you sin against your children. You sinned yesterday. You sin today. You will sin tomorrow. Does that disqualify you from being a parent? No, and if you have recognized this pattern of sin in your life, then you have great hope as you continue on in the task of parenting that God has called you to.
Jesus died for your sins, and even at this moment he intercedes for you before the Father. Don’t be deluded–you are not the perfect parent! I am sure you will agree; yet so often, when parents sin against their children, they don’t want to acknowledge it. They become defensive or discouraged, or they blame someone else (maybe even the dog). Sound familiar? But you were not perfect when you became a Christian, and you are certainly not perfect now. God knew this would be the case. Thus, the salvation that Christians have received is so powerful, so complete and awesome, that when you sin, God commands you to come and be renewed instead of turning from away from God. This great salvation is the reason that David could pray with confidence:
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you. Psalm 51:11-13 NIV
What does this look like in everyday life? Here are some examples:
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.
I am sure you can figure out several other variations on this theme. 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 is that when you immediately acknowledging 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
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? Also, God is helping me to remember that I have snapped at you a lot in the last few days, so I need to ask forgiveness for those times as well. Thank you! Let’s pray and ask God for his help and thank him for the providing the way of repentance and forgiveness for us. Great! Now, let’s talk about why things are going slowly with the yard work.
This parent has acknowledged sin for what it is. He is confident in the power of Christ’s salvation. He knows he will not be cast aside. He knows that because of what Christ did on the cross, his sins are 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.
This is the last of this short series on parenting and sin. I pray it has been helpful to you. Let me know!