Grace, the gateway to the heart

Posted on · Posted in Parenting

All humans are born with a terminal condition; we are born as unholy enemies of God. The problem is that this condition is not politically correct. It is no longer popular to say that all people are in need of the salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The only hope that mankind has is the grace of God.

Your children are born with this terminal condition. Parenting strategies that attempt to manipulate and motivate behavior apart from God’s grace do not solve the problem of rebellion to God. Changing behavior is not the main issue. Changing the heart is what matters.

  • Sharing toys to make play time less stressful is not grace.
  • Speaking kindly because this makes parents happy is not grace.
  • Keeping a room clean in order to obtain privileges is not grace.
  • Treating others with respect because it is socially beneficial is not grace.

It is not that any of the above behaviors are wrong. Indeed, they are all desirable qualities! But if these actions are not motivated by grace then they only reinforce that idea that people, including your children, do not stand in need of salvation. The truth is that if children believe they can obey successfully without grace, they actually move away from the grace and mercy of God.

Read what Tedd & Margy Tripp say about our need of grace in Instructing a Child’s Heart:

“Because the problem of sin is deeper than the wrong things we do and say, sin problems can only be solved by grace. Since our problem is internal, sin cannot be remedied by “getting one’s act together.” Only grace can bring radical heart transformation.

When the heart receives appropriate attention, children will not be able to escape how profoundly they need grace. If they see that their problem is bigger than behavior, they are delivered from superficial views of the Christian life.

Our children’s needs are the same as our needs.”

Instructing a Child's Heart

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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.