Do your children believe the gospel of Christ is about His performance on the cross? Or do your kids think that the gospel means God will only be pleased if they obey him and obey you? Do your kids think that the gospel means that they must be good so God will love them? Do your kids think that they must be good for you to like them, for you to love them? Your everyday talk teaches your functional understanding of the gospel to your children. Does your everyday talk center upon grace or performance?
Listen to your children talk about their understanding of the gospel. They do, you know. You may be thinking that children seldom, if ever, sit around and talk about the gospel. Actually, they do all the time. Listen to your children talk. Listen to what makes them happy or sad. Listen to what they say about how you love them. Listen, listen, listen.
“Mommy, I’m sorry I make you angry.”
“Daddy, I won’t do it again.”
“Why is everybody mad at me?”
“Do you think God is mad at me?”
“He hurt me, so I hit him back.”
“I am sorry that I am not good enough to make you happy.”
“I’ll be good, I promise. Please don’t be mad at me.”
“I try and try and try but I just can’t do what you want me to.”
“I guess I am just not good enough.”
“Mommy, I just can’t do it. I try but I just can’t.”
Have you ever heard words like these from your children? These statements indicate what your children think about the gospel. These kinds of statements show that performance (not grace) forms the basis of how your children are attempting to relate to you and to God.
When your children complain that they can’t do what God wants, you must seize the opportunity to respond with the powerful gospel of grace. This is your opportunity to say, “Sweetheart, I know that you can’t obey by yourself. This is why Jesus died. He did what you cannot do. Now He can help you to trust Him. Let’s ask Jesus to forgive you and help you love Him by the power of His gospel.”
Teach your children to pray and ask for God’s forgiveness and God’s strength to obey Him. Better still, pray together with your children for the wonder of the gospel to be the most important thing in the life of your family!
Excerpted from Everyday Talk.