Self-awareness and the heart

Posted on June 26, 2013 · Posted in Ruling Desires, Wisdom

Being self-aware is essential to living for the glory of God.

The Scripture says that all things are to be done for God’s glory. The problem is we are easily self-deceived. This is where self-awareness comes in. How well do we understand ourselves? How can we help our children gain self-awareness?

A young child may reason that a cookie will make her happy. The desire for the cookie overrides the command from mom not to have the cookie till after supper. On the surface this appears to be a simple matter of behavior. The desire for the cookie wins out over obedience.

However, on the heart-level, complex patterns are at work. We are born with a nature that is at war with God. Romans 1 also tells us that this sinful nature actively suppresses the truth of God. The unseen battle goes something like this:

“I want that cookie. I will not submit to God’s law or what mom wants. I deserve to have that cookie because it is my right to have it. I will not let God tell me what to do!“

In this light, simply addressing the behavior surrounding a misappropriated cookie misses the mark and plays right into the hands of the enemy. The reality of spiritual warfare and the importance of self-awareness is disregarded. Additional sins not only result in difficult consequences, but they also compound the patterns of suppressing God’s truth.

The child may not fully grasp the complexities hidden in her desire for the cookie. But a close examination of Romans 1:18-21, shows that this is exactly what is transpiring at the heart level. Understood this way, it becomes clear that there are no little sins.

Part of helping your child to reach maturity is to help her be aware of this spiritual warfare. She is not just satisfying her desire for a tasty cookie. She is training her heart to dismiss the truth of God and to add to a deepening distrust of God’s word. She must become self-aware in order to ultimately win this inner battle.

Detailed lessons about systematic theology won’t help your child at this point. However, you can say:

“Heather, when you disobeyed mommy and ate that cookie, you were also disobeying God. Remember, we have talked about how sin always lies to you. It is never just about what you want. Wanting the cookie is also disobeying God. This is why you can never trust what you want, unless you know it is also what God wants.”

This is how Heather will begin to learn the value of self-awareness. Over time she will learn to be increasingly aware of the spiritual war within. She will have the awareness to trust the Spirit’s Word and be wary of the flesh. And that will be a good thing.

 

 

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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.