Some days-the ones where I’m humiliated in public, the ones where I say, “Right now,” way too many times, the ones when I feel like I should wear stripes and carry a whistle-some days I forget that I should want more than an obedient child. ‘Don’t be impressed by outward conformity.’ But, too often, I just want my offspring to get in line, stop being so ridiculous, and obey already.
For all those days, God reminds me of these five things that are so much better than a child who ‘obeys right away, all the way, with a happy heart.’
1A child learning that God loves him. Loving God is the greatest commandment-on it hangs all the other laws she’s commanded to obey. But, she will only love God after being convinced that He loves her already.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
2A child learning to love God’s Word. His words are living…more powerful than any reward or deal I can make. He is the WORD. And so, more of the word in her means more of her conforming (eventually) to Him.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
3A child learning to love repentance and restoration. Only God’s spirit can bring change and He only abides with those who humble themselves and admit failure.
These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. Isaiah 66:2
4A child learning to love people more than he loves himself. Selfless living is anything but natural. But learning the love of Christ and His sacrifice makes becoming the Good Samaritan seem as natural as the sunrise.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
5A child learning how to live a life of JOY. So much of sin and disobedience comes from looking for happiness in all the wrong places. When he learns to find his joy in Jesus, all the world’s offers pale in comparison.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11
I so easily forget that a prostitute is often closer than a theologian to the kingdom of heaven-because she knows she has a problem. My kids are going to disobey (and so am I). But in all the fussing and fighting is hope-hope that we will at least wake up to the fact that we have a problem. Let us not aim for moralistic perfection but for a daily practice of learning God’s love through Christ and slowly obeying His call to love and repentance and joy.