From the Archives: Keeping the Gospel Central

Shaming your children is hypocritical. That, of course, is where you will always end up when you are trying to manipulate behavior. If, however, you deal with the heart, you will no longer be hypocritically distanced from your child. You can stand in solidarity with him and his struggles with selfishness. You can put your arm around him and say, “I understand what you are experiencing. I understand selfishness. I have my own struggles with being selfish.”

Please note: You are not excusing selfishness as okay since you are selfish too. Rather, you are simply identifying with this common struggle with sin. Not only do you understand the struggle, you know where to go with your struggles with selfishness. You know that you must take these struggles to Jesus Christ where you can find forgiveness and grace to help in your time of need.

Jesus Christ has experienced the same kind of temptations that you and your child experience (Heb. 4:14–16). Though he never failed, you often fail in these temptations and must continually seek grace and strength from Jesus Christ. You know that he is able to forgive and to cleanse you (1 Jn. 1:9), and that he is full of mercy for past failure and grace for present and future need.

As you help your children with this issue of selfishness, you are like a seasoned veteran on the battlefield. You have been in the battle for a longer time. You have a better knowledge of how to do this spiritual warfare. Your young children may just be beginning this battle with sin. You can get into the trenches with them and show them where there is hope and strength for this battle.

from Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp.

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