You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Pursuing the hearts of my children and desiring to point them to Jesus is done in the big moments when everyone is watching and in the secret mundane moments that no one else, but their little eyes, will ever see.
My pastor (also, conveniently known as my husband) taught from 1 Corinthians 4 this past Sunday and though it was not implicitly about parenting, there were a few major correlations that I thought would be helpful to those of you parenting or those of you desiring to parent one day.
Paul is writing this letter to the Corinthians, who by most anyone’s standards were a people marked by disfunction, poor decisions, and a lifestyle that was less than ideal. They were living in a way that was harmful to themselves and those around them. They had laid aside the Gospel.
And what we see in 1 Corinthians is Paul’s response to their wayward hearts, a letter of instruction. He is addressing deep concerns over their spiritual well-being and in doing so is having to say the very hard thing. He is pointing out their sin and mistakes and all the ways they are missing it but then he says:
I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” Verse 14
Such beauty is uncovered in the meaning of those words.
Ashamed: in the original language the New Testament was written in, Greek, we see that this word would have meant to look inward. To focus on one’s self.
As believer’s our goal is never to be focused on ourself but on our Savior.
Mamas, in our instruction to our children are we shaming them? Are we turning their focus inward, to themselves? Or are we pointing them to Jesus?
Is our goal in our instruction and correction to just make their mistakes known to them? Are we handing out guilty sentences to our children, indicting them with questions like “Why did you… ” and “How could you…” Statements such as those are harsh and often laden with self-righteous undertones (i.e. I would have never done that so I am better.)
Or do we truly desire to see their hearts changed? If the latter is true then our goal should be so much deeper than pointing out their mistakes and instead putting the focus on the one who died for their mistakes.
Admonish: means to warn or exhort. We see the same word used in Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
We see by that verse that admonishing is not something to be feared or viewed as a negative, the way our english language or culture would deem it to be but rather an act that leads to worship.
Our admonishing, our warning, our instruction and correction should lead to worship.
Beloved Children: Paul calls the Corinthians ‘beloved children’ which means: esteemed, favorite, worthy of love. His instruction and correction to them is not from a place of superiority, making them feel inferior but rather from a place of love. He genuinely loved them. He was for them. He wanted them to know Jesus more deeply and profoundly so he is bringing their sin in view but then quickly reminding them that they are loved by a Savior who died for all of that sin.
As mamas, we can pursue the hearts of our children and point them to Jesus when we recognize that we are not going to get this right all the time. And when we make a mistake, apologize. Ask for their forgiveness, let them hear you praying and asking Jesus for forgiveness over the way you missed it and let them hear you saying “thank you Jesus that you died for that and have forgiven me.”
As mamas, we can pursue the hearts of our children and point them to Jesus when we (with His grace) stop viewing their behavior as a reflection on how great a job we are doing at this parenting thing. The pressure is off mamas. He loves them even more than you do.
As mamas, we can pursue the hearts of our children and point them to Jesus when we (with His grace) stop putting the pressure on our children to “do good” and “be better.” That is not Good News. That is not the Gospel. Only Jesus can change our hearts.
As mamas, we can pursue the hearts of our children and point them to Jesus when we (with His grace) lovingly remind them Jesus loves sinners.
Now rather than shaming my grandchildren by saying things like, ‘I can’t believe you’re so selfish to not share your toys!’ I can say, ‘I know what it’s like to feel as if I have to have something to be happy. When we know we should share but don’t want to, we can go to Jesus, who loves sinners, and ask for His grace.” Elyse Fitzpatrick, Good News for Weary Women