Grace and Law—Parenting with the Gospel in View
One day a little boy name Jimmy was told not to eat the candy on the table. His father told him that he could have a piece of candy after lunch, but Jimmy ate a piece of candy anyway and while he was chewing the candy the father caught him. The father told Jimmy that he was being disobedient and the next day he was not going to be able to eat any candy. Jimmy responded, “Daddy I hate you.” Immediately the father thought of the verse in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” So, the father decided to lighten the discipline because the last thing the father wanted to do was make his son hate him or provoke him to anger. Jimmy responded to the change in discipline with a smile and a hug saying, “I love you, Daddy.” Did the father respond correctly?
What does it mean to provoke your child to wrath?
Matthew Henry writes:
“The duty of parents. Be not impatient; use no unreasonable severities. Deal prudently and wisely with children; convince their judgments and work upon their reason. Bring them up well; under proper and compassionate correction; and in the knowledge of the duty God requires. Often is this duty neglected, even among professors of the gospel. Many set their children against religion; but this does not excuse the children’s disobedience, though it may be awfully occasion it. God alone can change the heart, yet he gives his blessing to the good lessons and examples of parents, and answers their prayers. But those, whose chief anxiety is that their children should be rich and accomplished, whatever becomes of their souls, must not look for the blessing of God.”
In conclusion, as parents we need to remember Hebrews 12:11: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Jimmy may not have liked the discipline, but the father must remember to teach his son the consequences of disobedience. We as parents must learn to walk the line between grace and appropriate discipline.
We must teach grace, but grace devoid of law is no grace at all.
As Albert Mohler Jr. said, “Many parents want to teach their children to grow in the gospel and give them opportunity to express themselves, but the first duty of a parenting is to keep them alive, so we say to Jimmy do not place the screwdriver in the outlet or you will be disciplined.”
May God give us grace to parent with eternity in view.
Blog by Tim Yorgey