Love does not keep a record of wrongs – an example

Posted on February 18, 2013 · Posted in Gospel, Parenting

Erin asked for an example of the what it would look to show how a parent would lovingly discipline by not keeping a record of wrongs.  The example in the post was about a child who repeatedly failed to come when called. It is counterproductive to remind the child of how many times they have failed. This can easily lead to frustration for both parent and child. It also can give the idea that the eighth time the child disobeyed is far worse than the first time. Each refusal to come is equally serious. The problem is the same each time – God is being disobeyed. 

 

The following scenario assumes that mom has been working with her daughter in biblical obedience. While this is but one of many possible applications, the principle remains the same. This is not the first time this conversation has occurred. 

 

The scenario might look like this:

 

Five year old Jennifer has shown a pattern of not responding quickly to her mother. Mom realizes that she has allowed Jennifer to repeatedly ignore her direction because she has been distracted by other things. So instead of scolding Jennifer for failing to come eight times in a row, mom says this:

 

“Jennifer, please forgive mommy for encouraging you to disobey me this afternoon.”

 

“Mommy, I don’t understand.”

 

“I realized that I have allowed you not to come when I called. Do you remember not quickly obeying mommy?”

 

“Uh, yessss.”

 

“How does God want you to obey?”

 

“To do exactly what I am told, right away, with a good attitude.”

 

“Exactly!. This is why I am asking you to forgive me, because I let you ignore me when I called. I was wrong to keep raising my voice and telling you come. Will you forgive me?”

 

“Yes, mommy.”

 

“Great, thank you. I know it is hard to obey in your own strength. That is why Jesus died on the cross. His death and resurrection means that you really can obey the way Bible says. You see, I need to trust Jesus to obey just as much as you do. I need the power of the gospel to help me faithfully love you and teach you to obey. I am going to do what I should have done the first time you didn’t come when I called. Then we can pray and ask God to help us both obey quickly.”

 

Erin, I hope this helps. In parenting, keeping a list of wrongs is not love. Love is quickly and lovingly disciplining your children. Love is telling your children of their need of knowing Christ as their savior to have the strength that comes from a new heart. 

 

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.