Parents, when your children sin and they are not respectful to you, how do you want to respond? If you make the matter primarily a personal offense against yourself and respond in anger and frustration, you will do what any ordinary parent might 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 and totally destructive. In this way you would associate God with the ordinary actions of ordinary people.
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. 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 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 day so that your talk will show your God to be a holy God. Do not be dominated by hurt, rather be dominated by mercy, peace, and grace. Anyone can be hurt and angry when sinned against. Instead show the beauty of being holy. In this way your discipline will be motivated by the loving commands of God instead of your hurt.