The problem with mess ups

Posted on July 5, 2013 · Posted in Parenting

You just realized you were angry at your children and snapped at them instead of giving even, pleasant correction and discipline for their wrong behavior. So you say something like this. “Kids, I messed up and should not have snapped and been upset when you were not obeying me. I have been really stressed lately. Sorry, I messed up again. Let’s get back to work.”

Euphemisms for sin, like “messing up”, hinder your parenting. When sin is correctly identified, there is hope. There is little hope for mess ups when the words are a euphemism for sin. So in this illustration the parent has acted to explain away his sinful actions. He has tried to put a bandaid over his sin.

David recognized this in Psalm 51. In verse 4 of the psalm he says:

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…”

There is no holding back. David is open before God, and he is simply stating the obvious. God is not impressed with our euphemisms. What he wants is the honesty of a heart that doesn’t attempt to hide the seriousness of sin. In verse 6, David says, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”

God desires truth, not euphemisms. But here is the good part: Jesus Christ forgives sins. By exchanging your euphemisms for the more accurate term–sin–you bring the full power of gospel grace to your task as a parent. Yes, God knows you cannot be perfect in this life. But he commands that you ask for forgiveness when you are not perfect. Why? Because he knows that you will experience the fullness of his love expressed in the gospel when you acknowledge your sins before him–when you repent and receive his forgiveness.

Ultimately, it is this realization of the richness of God’s grace that will move you away from your sins, including your anger as a parent. David knew the power of God’s forgiveness. This power allowed him to return to teaching others, even after he sinned. This same power will let you show the power of the gospel to your children.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you. Psalm 51:12-13 NIV

Don’t let euphemisms rob you of the joy and power of knowing God’s grace as a parent.

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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.