Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Kid---Your Kid: Equally Sinful

While kids have different personalities and ways of exhibiting sin, we all have sin and are in desperate need of a Savior. Don't believe me? See Jeremiah 17:9. Or Romans 3:23. Or Romans 3:10.



One time a friend was telling me about her very laid-back little boy after I was telling her about challenges with my strong-willed child and I said, "It is a blessing that you have such a good boy." Later, I was mad at myself for saying that. It was like I was implying that her child is less-sinful than my child because he is more compliant. We often tell our kids that God loves them all and they are all special and they are equally loved but how often do we remember that they are equally sinful as well? The truth is that my friend's son, who only cries very softly, and is very quiet and peaceable is every bit as sinful as my other friends' kid who throws rocks at strangers and has an explosive temper.

It can be easy to envy others whose kids' seem better-behaved than our kids or it can be easy to think our kids, when they are actually behaving, are so much better than someone else's kids. Not true!

Certainly we need to train our kids and some kids are easier to train than others and some parents train their kids more effectively than others. But while my Jeremiah may be much easier to discipline and train, he is no less sinful than his sister. Compliant kids can be good about covering their sin, but they struggle with things such as people-pleasing instead of God-pleasing, whining, manipulating, allowing their emotions to rule them, hidden anger, pride in "being a good child," lazy-ness, being passive when God wants them to lead, silent stubbornness, etc.

So, if you find yourself discouraged at the comments from older folks suffering from parenting amnesia, or even comments from friends in your own stage of life, who think their kids were/are God's gift to the universe, point out this truth. You may think this point is rather obvious, but its' not. You'd be amazed how much I hear about so-and-so being such a little angel and how often I've said it myself! I'm often tempted to favor my compliant son over my fiercely willful daughter. While it may seem like a blessing to have quiet or compliant kids, we have to remember that just because they may be easier for us to be around most days, they have just as much sin in their hearts and just as much need of a Savior. Ever seen adults who grew up being told that they were "perfect little children?" Trust me, you don't want to! It also goes without saying that failing to teach your kids that they are equally sinful can result in sibling rivalry, anger and resentment, etc.

I bring this whole point up because of this: One of my friends recently shared in an e-mail how she's only recently discovered how much she really needs Jesus. She grew up a "good" girl in a devoted Christian family and she thought that other people somehow needed Jesus more than her. I'm so thankful that she has come to this realization of her deep, deep need for the Savior and is growing in leaps and bounds and is an inspiration to me.

We have to tell our kids the truth. They need to know that they are sinners and how to deal with their sin. How can we ignore their greatest problem, even if it's not always flagrant?

For those of you who grew up in a brother or sister's shadow, especially if that sibling was a "goody two-shoes" this is encouraging news for you! For those of you with kids who can push your buttons constantly who wonder why everyone else's kids seem so nice, this is encouraging news for you! For those of you who tend to idealize your children, this is a good warning for you! For those of you who grew up thinking that the heroine addict/prostitute who lived on the streets was somehow more in need of Jesus than you were, this is a reality check for you!

Something else I need to work on along these lines is dropping the, "You're such a good boy!" and "You're such a naughty girl!" and instead say, "I like it when you obey Mommy right away Jer," and "It displeases God and Mommy when you push your brother Ali."

My kids are also very quick to jump on one another when the other one is in trouble. "Ali's naughty, huh?"

"Yes, she is being disobedient right now Jeremiah, but you are often disobedient too. That's why we need Jesus."

"Jerby's in time-out but I'm being good. I'm a nice girl."

"You are obeying Mama right now Ali and that is wonderful, but you have often disobeyed too. You and Jer both do wrong things and that's why Jesus had to come to die."

So, in addition to telling them "You're all so special. God loves each one of you!" remember to also be communicating to them not only just that they have sinned but also that, "You are all equally sinful and in desperate need of a Savior."

For more on this, visit here and scroll down to the paragraph entitled, "The Equalizer."

*I wrote this post a couple of months ago and hadn't gotten around to editing it until now!*

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

On the other side, it's so important to recognize that your difficult child is a beloved child of God, and be sure they hear that from you over and over.

Regardless of their behavior, God loves "easy" children AND "difficult" children deeply and equally. They don't need to behave or obey to be loved by God. That's what grace is all about - what God has done for us, in spite of what we do or don't do.

Mrs. Jo said...

I agree completely Anonymous! I think most Christians in my church and my circles are good about emphasizing love and grace, but don't emphasize sin and need enough with their kids. They need to hear about both! And they need to hear especially that we are EQUALLY sinful and EQUALLY loved regardless of what they have done/haven't done.

I grew up in church and heard lots about God's love for me. Thanks to 5-Day Clubs and Camp Good News and other CEF materials and programs I heard about my sin and my need too. But tons and tons of kids today have no concept of their need. They hear that God loves them not only in Bible-believing churches, but also in liberal and heretical churches and sometimes just in mainstream culture. But sin and equal depravity are "dirty words."

Lesley said...

I loved this post, Lindsey and also your response here to "Anonymous." What you said is so true. It seems like God's love is talked about constantly but his righteousness and our sin and need for repentance is often ignored. (at least in most of the churches I have been in)
This is something that has been on my heart for awhile. I think God's love definitely should be talked about but I also think people need to realize WHY we needed a Saviour in the first place and why repentance is so important in our walk with God.

I've heard some people claim that talking too much about obedience and God's expectations of us is a "works based religion." True, we are saved by faith. But faith without works is dead. There needs to be that balance there and while God's love for us doesn't change based on what we do or don't do (grace), I do believe we need to be acknowledging and dealing with our sin (repentance) instead of ignoring it. True repentance means a changing of the mind that results in a change of behavior.

Whenever my sin doesn't bother me, that's when I think I'm headed for trouble. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but wordly sorrow brings death."

And while we don't need to behave or obey in order to be loved by God, not doing so does result in consequences.

So sorry to ramble, but your post and comment just really hit the heart of something I've had on my mind for a long time now and what you said is 100% correct. Just like you said -- it all needs to be talked about -- sin and need, love and grace. When you leave any part out, you're not getting the full picture.

And what you said about easy and difficult kids being equally sinful and equally loved is right on too.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and hope some of mine made sense too! :)

bigcitymama said...

You tell your kids that they disobey and that's why Jesus died? I'm not sure I understand that. I am not being at all disrespectful - I enjoy your blog, I just truly don't understand that. Can you explain what you mean/

Mrs. Jo said...

BigcityMama,

I'm sorry if I came across kind of unclear with that phrase. What I meant by that is explaining to the kids that we sin (ex.: disobeying parents) and that our sin was the reason Jesus had to come and offer His life as a sacrifice. Because of the wrong things we do, we need a Savior. And not just because of the "bigger" sins but even of the seemingly "smaller" sins like smart-mouthing your Mama or pinching your brother, etc.

I believe that God is the highest authority with our kids and that they need to know that all of the wrong things they do displease Him as well as displeasing their parents. When they smack their playmate, it's not just an offense to the playmate, but also an offense to God who calls us to love one another. If they only learn to deal with sin on a person to person level, they will still feel guilt and not have a clear conscience. They need to realize, as we all do, that sin is ultimately against God and we need to ask forgiveness of others, and of Him when we do wrong. I don't force my kids to pray or anything but I do want to point out to them that their sins are wrong in God's sight and their sins point to their great need for a Savior who can offer them forgiveness, peace, hope, and the ability to love and do right.

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