God loves His children and longs to parent them. He longs to impart His Wisdom to their hearts. He longs to help them fall in love with Him. God teaches us about faith, finances, and our future. The Bible offers a GPS, God’s Parenting System. This system is important to all of us.
One of the first things you do when you turn on your GPS is “enter the destination.” Many conflicts between spouses occur when they don’t see the same destination for parenting. Many of us are angry at God as a parent because His destination and ours seems out of sync. We want to be happy; He wants us to be holy. One spouse wants our kids to “obey us,” while the other wants children to “feel good about us and themselves.” So let’s begin by plugging in the right destination.
A. Godly Parenting System is Not…
Destination Carnation: Everything is about relational self-discovery/awareness.
Carnation parenting is neither concerned with suppressing evil in a child, nor elevating good. The method of self-discovery is elevated above results. Conflict avoidance is more important than conflict resolution.
Destination Citation: Everything is about rules and regulations.
This authoritative style is about power. Obey, or else. Fear of reproof motivates rather than a love of virtue.
B. God’s Parenting System is…
Destination Impartation: Implanting into a child’s heart a love for virtue and a trust in God and His commandments.
Here is the point: God wants us to love and trust Him. To develop our hearts to trust that His way is best. He wants us to obey Him because we know He loves us and in response, we trust Him and love Him. There will be external guidelines, but rather than obeying for the sake of obeying, he wants us to trust Him and thus, obey Him as a result. He wants us to do hard things rather than just always feeling good, and trust Him along the way. When you trust someone in your heart (that means that you trust they know best and have your best interests at heart)…you will obey. Grace allows us to have a pure motive for obedience.
How does God win our hearts? How is this message different from DESTINATION CITATION (all about rules and regulations)? How is this message more than DESTINATION CARNATION where it’s all flowery and self-image? The main message of the Bible allows for a pure motive. Why? If you are motivated by rules, you are either motivated by fear of breaking them, or fear of not being accepted. You are motivated by guilt of not wanting to be more guilty, or pride “Look what I did.” But Grace is the message where God says, “Love me with all your heart, soul and mind. Love me with all your strength, because (if you accept and believe it), I make you acceptable to Me. There are many wonderful religions and ethics in the world, but the motive for obedience is always about trying to seek favor with God. Acts of goodness are merely steps to obedience with God, but NOT so with the Christ-follower. Christ-followers know they are already accepted by God. They know they are already forgiven for past, present, and future acts. They know they are fully and completely loved by their Creator. They trust Him with their eternity and therefore want to trust Him with their lives. Our goodness therefore is a love response to God rooted in a relationship with Christ. We treat others well because God treated us well, and we value others as much as He valued us.
I heard a story of two parents who saw this in their daughter’s love for her doll. One Christmas, Jennifer received a Holly Hobbie Doll that she loved and cherished for years. One day she turned to her dad and asked him to hold the doll while she made up its bed. “Be careful how you hold her Daddy,” was a common instruction. Mom and dad saw this patched up doll, with its stained clothing and missing hair and were tempted to focus on its material value. The doll was not worth the cloth is was made of anymore. To them, the doll was valueless, but not to its owner. To Jennifer, the doll was precious. The more tattered it became the more care and love she gave it. Her words, “Be very careful how you hold her,” governed her care. We held that doll, not based on our perception of its value, but on the value assigned it by its owner.
The same is true with God. He tells all of us…look at what I did for you. This passage in Deuteronomy reminds them that HE delivered them from Egypt. HE thought them to be so valuable, that HE went to create lengths to secure their freedom. HE found them when they were rebelling against Him. HE made a way through the Red Sea to freedom. And now, in light of what God has done for them, He says, Trust me with your heart. Love me for first loving you.
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