Scripture is our best parenting tool. I’m not talking about forcing your child to write out a passage which correlates to his or her specific sin 100 times. Nor am I suggesting we use it as a verbal weapon to use against our children when they are caught in unsavory behavior. God’s word becomes a natural part of our discipline when His word is a centerpiece in our lives.
2 Timothy 2:16 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
I found some kids in my house engaged in a battle of epic proportions. The details aren’t important, other than: Mama Bear was unleashed. The kind of fight I witnessed was new territory for me as a parent. I found myself separating the culprits and sending them away lest I say something I would later regret. As I stood scrambling my morning eggs, I pleaded with The Lord for wisdom. I sought wise counsel. And then, I went into a battle of my own. The spiritual battle of keeping my kid’s hearts while administering grace-filled connection.
After gathering the necessary information to understand the situation, related consequences were given to the parties involved in the fight. As we talked, it became clear that one party was repentant. The other party had a hardened and defensive heart. I was sincerely disappointed in this child’s behavior, but I knew my angry child needed a lot of reassurance and love.
After significant time had passed, I asked the unrepentant child if we could sit on the couch and snuggle for a minute and chat. I listened carefully to my kiddo’s heart. There wasn’t any reason in that moment to argue, correct, or share how I felt. This was my chance to show my sincere desire to understand. When it seemed natural in our conversation, I opened my Bible to a passage we had been learning from in church. This wasn’t a time to give a super spiritual list of ways this kid could have done better. I wanted my child to hear the amazing grace of the gospel of Christ.
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…”
I stopped and emphasized this first sentence. “You my child have been chosen by God. You are set apart for Him. You are dearly loved by Him.” I went on to talk about the sacrifice of love God had made for us and how Jesus went to the cross for us, loving us, just as we are. “This was a big mess up today. I was sad and angry to see how your angry choices were affecting my other children. But even in that moment, you were still deeply loved and God still called you His own.”
As we talked, I watched my child’s heart begin to soften. Tears flowed freely. I said sweetly, “I know you are capable of rising above what happened this morning, because you belong to God. You are growing. The choices you make right now are shaping your character. We can respond to what Christ has done for us by reflecting the character of our God who loves us dearly. Or, we can choose our own way. Those choices impact our life and the lives of those around us. The Bible tells us, “The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”
I watched the tear soaked face look up at me and heard the words, “I want to grow in godliness.” After a long hug, we wiped away tears. The struggle to want to fight when someone hurts me is a struggle I share. It was easy to think of specific examples of ways I’ve been hurt and how hard it is to forgive and bear with those around me. We discussed how natural it is when we hurt to, “look at what someone has done to us, instead of what Jesus has done for us.” ~Troy Dobbs
Colossians 3:12-14 “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
On our knees, we began to pray through the rest of this verse, responding to what God had done for us. There wasn’t any way we could change in our own strength. We needed God’s power to change us. We prayed that God would help us to clothe ourselves with compassion; for the strength to bear with others who offend us; for forgiveness and the ability to forgive; we prayed for love.
God’s word transformed the hearts of both my child and myself during this moment of correction and discipline. We experienced a holy and sacred moment, as we embraced the love of God in the midst of some pretty ugly stuff going on in our home. The sweetness of God’s character began to seep into our hearts. Throughout the day, He answered our prayer as we walked in forgiveness and love with one another and the others in our house.
When we live with God’s word as our center…we can be transformed by it. We can use it in disciplinary moments, while also keeping our kid’s hearts. Our discipline can point to the gospel. I want my kid’s characters to grow…not for the sake of earning favor with God, but as a response to the One who gave His all on the cross, conquering sin and death.