Like Samuel of old, we become focused on outward appearance. We devote a great deal of time to the outer man, but God is concerned with the heart. Our children will never interpret life correctly until they understand that it is the heart that directs all of life.
The adjectives used to describe the heart in the Bible:
The heart is variously described as adulterous, anguished, arrogant, astray, bitter, blameless, blighted, broken, calloused, circumcised, contrite, crushed, darkened, deadened, deceitful, deluded, devoted, disloyal, envious, evil, faint, faithful, far off, fearful, foolish, grateful, happy, hard, haughty, humble, mad, malicious, obstinate, perverse, proud, pure, rebellious, rejoicing, responsive, righteous, sick, sincere, sinful, steadfast, troubled, unfeeling, uncircumcised, upright, unsearchable, weary, wicked, wise, and wounded.
No wonder the Bible says that it is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks…
Children who understand the heart understand themselves and others. “For from within, out of men’s (children’s) hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man (child) ‘unclean’” (Mk. 7:21–23). We see these things in our children.
Do you ever see greediness at your house? Especially if the candy is being given out! What about deceit? Isn’t it amazing how children can mislead you with words that are technically true?
“Did you remember your book bag?”
“Please get it for me. Let’s see if you have any homework to do.”
“I can’t, I left it in my locker at school.”
“I thought you said you remembered it.”
“I did remember it. In the bus on the way home I thought, ‘Oh, no, I left my book bag at school.’”
This child understood the intent of the question. Yet he answered in a manner that was technically true, but cleverly designed to create an impression that was false. What about envy? Do you ever see envy at your house? “It’s not fair, Dad. He went to Wal-Mart with you three times and I only went to Wal-Mart with you once. It’s not fair.”
What about slander? My children used to come to me with slander against each other.
“Daddy, brother is being unkind to me . . .”
“Why are you telling me this? Would you like for us to pray for your brother? I am sure he would benefit from our prayers. Or do you want me to scold him?”
Evil thoughts, theft, malice, lewdness, arrogance, and folly; we see it all in our children from time to time. We ask one another, “Where does he get this stuff from?” The Bible tells us it comes from the heart.
Excerpted from Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd & Mary Tripp