Obedience is not something to use to gain a reward. Rather, obedience itself is a reward, a great privilege, honor and joy.
Just as I cannot make myself more acceptable to God by my obedience, neither do I want my children to think that I will be more accepting of them because of their obedience.
“Excuse me! Would you mind saying that again?”
Sure. Your children must not think that you will be more accepting of them if they obey you.
I know, saying it like this seems awkward. So much of your life is about training and teaching God’s truth. But the truth is that one’s own obedience does not make him acceptable to God. The last thing that I want is to stand before God at the end of the day and ask God to accept me based on how well I obeyed that day! My only hope of acceptance is the sacrificial obedience of Christ on my behalf.
Yet, our children are often evaluated and accepted, at least in the moment, based on how well they obeyed our direction. Parent, you can’t have it both ways. If your obedience cannot secure your acceptance with God, then neither can your children’s obedience be the basis of your acceptance of them.
This is why the gospel must be the cornerstone of your parenting. When children disobey, the solution should not simply be to do better next time. The solution is to trust Christ for the strength to do what cannot be done in their own strength.
Training your children to be obedient is not about getting them to do what you want them to do. It is about teaching them to honor God from their hearts. Biblical obedience acknowledges the weakness of our flesh and the absolute necessity of having a heart transformed by the power of the cross. The gospel must be the foundation and the never-ending theme of your parenting.
Neither you nor your children can use obedience to plea bargain with God, to appease him, or to make yourself worthy in his eyes. Only the work of Christ can make things right with God. So obedience is a response of love and worship to God. With the psalmist you can say:
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes. Psalm 19:8
Model this kind of obedience before your children. You and they will be blessed!