31-Day Parenting Devotion
A PARENT’S SECRET WEAPON TO MOTIVATE A CHILD TO CHANGE
Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
When you think about your heavenly Father, you are immediately aware of His kindness, patience, forbearance, and affection for you. These thoughts about your heavenly Father are fundamental because how He treats you is how you are to treat others, especially your children.
There are scores of verses in the New Testament that teach about God’s amazing love for individuals. As you read these verses, think about how God’s unquenching love motivates you toward change.
- He loved you while you were a sinner–Romans 5:8.
- He loves you even when He disciplines you–Hebrews 12:6.
- He gave His life for you–Hebrews 12:2; 1 Corinthians 6:20.
- He is completely and undeniably on your side–Romans 8:31-34
- He healed you from your sin by taking your sin upon Himself–1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
- He secures you by His mighty power–John 10:28-30.
Doesn’t these gospel truths motivate you toward Christian maturity? Doesn’t this kind of aggressive love motivate you to change? God’s unmerited favor was the key point Paul was making to the Romans when he began to give them a gospel-centered perspective on how people change in Romans 2:4.
In context, Paul had just turned his argument for the need to change from the pagan Gentiles (Romans 1:16-32) to the Jews (Romans 2:1). He was telling his ethnic brothers the same kindness, forbearance, and patience the Father showed to the Gentiles is also being shown to them.
He did not want them to presume–take for granted–on God’s kindness, knowing it is God’s kindness that leads to change. How repentance comes is essential knowledge as you think about how it works in your child’s life.
If your home is not a context of kindness, where your kids are knowing and experiencing your love, don’t be surprised if authentic change does not come to them.
I’m talking about the love of God practically displayed and given to your children. The gospel-discerning parent can do this because kindness begets kindness. A good tree will produce good fruit (Luke 6:44-45).
If you are living in and experiencing the daily love of God (root/heart), you will be able to produce the love of God (fruit/actions) toward others. You can only give what you possess. If you do not have genuine affection for your children and if you’re not regularly showing that kindness, you will exasperate them. Loving well takes work. Gospel-work is never easy because gospel-work is always other-centered.
Time to Parent
How do you think you score with your children? What do your kids think about when they think about you? Let’s put these questions into two categories: (1) affection and gratitude; (2) correction and displeasure. Here are some practical questions you can ask your children:
- When you think of me, do you first think of my love and affection for you or do you think more about my displeasure and correction of you?
- When I say I have something to say to you, what do you think first: Am I going to encourage you, or am I going to discourage you?
- Do you consider me to be a joy to be around, or do you consider me more of a burden to be around?
- If you could choose a word that best describes my affection (or lack thereof) for you, what would that word be?
Think of these questions like conversation starters that will provide opportunities for you to engage your children in a real way that does not put pressure on them to change.