Friday, August 19, 2011


Beth and her husband Stephen look forward to seeing many of  you at the HOPE AT HOME 2011 Conference in September. Register now to enjoy the Early Bird Registration break.

In the first post we wrote back in March on this blog, entitled JOYFUL PARENTING, I spoke about the desire to see our parenting reflect the Good News-- to see the truth of God's Grace worked out in our families, where the proverbial rubber meets the road. We can sit in  bible studies and go on mission trips, but if we don't flesh all of these truths out in the realities of life in our homes, with our children, then surely we are missing something. So, the issue of PARENTING IN GRACE is one of great interest and significance for us. What does it look like? Isn't the law necessary in order to keep our children safe and well-behaved? What is the role of punishment?

No Longer Sin-Conscious
The Gospel is about relationship, not rules. So, our parenting needs to be about relationship, not rules! I don't believe there is a place for punishment in parenting because I see that Jesus bore the punishment of each of us on the cross. He has saved us from it, at the same time imputing His righteousness to us. As we raise our children, year after year exposing the devastation of neglect and rejection to the healing of God's mighty love, we have the freedom no longer to be sin-conscious, but rather righteousness-conscious, that is--Jesus-conscious.
"through the law we become conscious of our sin." (Romans 3:20)
 No longer focused on behavior (what was done, what should be done, what shouldn't be done), but rather, we focus on what Jesus has already done for our child. 
"For our sake He made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him by His goodness.]" 2 Corinthians 5:21
But if we don't punish, what do we do? How do we respond to sinful behavior in our children? 

The Training that is Needed
Have you ever thought about the fact that no one has ever needed to train a child to be selfish or to take a toy that doesn't belong to her, or to hit when he is angry, or to cheat at a game, or to lie, fly into a rage, or steal.....? There is no training needed for that! But there is, no doubt, a training needed! 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of  "training for righteousness." This kind of training is ours to do as parents. And we know that no training happens incidentally. The word "training" implies some labor on our part. As with any athlete in training, or musician, there is a plan, a goal--time is required, work is demanded. 
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into a strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:25

"...train yourself to be godly (discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness). For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:7-8

The Problem with Punishment
Note the difference between Punishment and Training-- it is key as we raise our children. Punishment is backward looking, focused on the payment for a behavior or offense. It seeks to correct by exacting payment and is powerless to impart identity. (We spoke about identity in a previous post, PARENTING IN GRACE: IDENTITY.) Neither punishment, nor shame, it's close companion, are the stuff of Christian parenting. These are not tools for us any longer.

On the other hand, training is forward-looking, focused on the future, in preparation for and in anticipation of God's purposes and plans. Training and discipline exist for the purpose of serving the identity of your child-- an identity already imparted by Grace. It is our joy and privilege to disciple our children in Grace!
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

God Parents Us as We Parent Our Children
Stephen and I have had to make many adjustments in our parenting over the years. Like many of you, adoption has shaken up our parenting greatly! And of course, the more we receive God's love for us and allow Him to parent us as His beloved children, the more we have had to adjust the way we parent our children. I encourage you today that there is no punishment or payment to be exacted from you as a parent. I imagine that, like me, you have not parented perfectly. Have you lost your temper, punished in anger or frustration, failed to take the time and effort required to train out of fatigue or even exhaustion? We have a gracious God who has given us His righteousness in Christ and who no longer counts our sins against us. Let us not look back to what we have done wrong as parents, but rather heed the Call of GRACE and HOPE, looking forward with expectation of God's goodness to be manifest our family.

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