Biblical love is different. It is never out of place. Even in discipline and correction, love is to dominate. This is why Paul says that if we don’t have love we gain nothing. The world and our flesh want us to act as if love is something we give to others if it is earned by their behavior. So when our children are disobedient, we seldom think about being kind. However, love is kind. Kindness is, therefore, never inappropriate or out of place.
Gospel-centered parenting is parenting that is not based upon making parents happy. The gospel means that I am secure in Christ, even when I am disobedient. As a Christian I do not want to stand before God and ask him to accept me based upon the best day that I ever had serving him. Even that best day would be a total denial of his goodness and grace given freely to me. Now what about my normal or bad days?!? God is always kind to me! Even in discipline, I am not treated as my sins deserve.
Now, move this forward to parenting. If we want our children to be kind we must consistently model kindness to them. Matthew 18:23-35 teaches us that we are to act in constant awareness of the grace given for us. It is easy to show kindness when our children are respectful and obey quickly with a smile. It is easy to show kindness when they clean the living room without being told. But when they are disrespectful and make a mess instead, being kind seldom enters our minds. Suppose God chose to follow our example when he disciplines us for our sinful behavior? I don’t know about you, but that is a thought that terrifies me.
Being kind does not mean you don’t discipline or correct. It does not mean you roll over and give your kids control of the house. It does not mean lowering standards. Being kind means that you show God to your children. Your words are pleasant words, even when discipline is called for.
Do your children see two types of parents? When things go well do they see parents that are content and pleased that things are under control? However, when things enter the twilight zone of disobedience and chaos do they see parents who are upset and whose only focus is to get things back under control, no matter what it takes? Kindness seems out of place in this twilight zone. Yet is the lack of kindness that may be breeding the problem.
Love is patient. You are trusting that God will provide his wisdom in difficult situations. Love is kind. You are demonstrating the extraordinary holiness of God by the way you act. Your words are pleasant. Your focus is clear. Your manner is kind. Yes, there are consequences for sin. But the consequences are administered in light of the gospel grace that has been given to you.
Your middle schooler has attempted once again to hide that he has homework to do so that he can hang out with his friends in the afternoon. You discover a homework assignment that slipped out of his book bag while is out playing. It is time to talk with him about the problems of attempting to deceive the God who sees everything he does. It is time to tell him of when you have done similar things. It is time to see how he is doing at school. It is time to do something special with him. It is time to help him reach out to you. It is a time for discipline as well. But, most of all it is a time to show love through kindness.