How Should You Respond to Children Who Don’t Obey God? Part 2

It’s hard when a child you love is rejecting God’s Word and wants to live his/her life in a way that is pleasing to them, but not pleasing to God. But with God’s help, and focusing on obedience to God’s Word, God can be glorified in the process! So, what do parents need to do that will help them through this fiery trial of life? In the first post, we talked about looking in the mirror first, allowing children to make some decisions on their own, and loving them the way God loves you. Today we look at the importance of being the example and showing grace.

Be the Example

Let’s be honest with each other and admit that it’s always easier to expect other people to change and grow than it is for us to change and grow ourselves – even if those ‘other people’ are our children. We want them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. We want them to obey God’s commands and follow the Word of God in all areas of their life. We want them to think and act like Christ and to be servants of the Lord and to people around them. We want them to share the Gospel with others who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and we want them to be the ‘salt and light’ that Jesus told us to be. All those are godly desires, but we have to ask a very convicting question: Are we willing to model those same expectations that we have for our children?

One of the best ways to respond to a child who does not obey God is to model the very expectations we have of them. One of the most foundational verses in the New Testament is John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus left His throne at the right hand of the Father and He came to this earth to bring glory to the Father. He was the “One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was the perfect example to us. He did not expect from us anything that He was not willing to do or to be for the glory of God. Think about this question: If my child loved the Lord, loved others, read God’s Word, prayed, served the Lord, and was growing spiritually in the same way that I am growing…in other words, if their spirituality was a direct reflection of your own…than to what degree could you call your child spiritual?

As parents, we have to be the example of the very things we expect from our children. We can’t change our child’s life, but we can show him/her how to change and be what Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, “…in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe”.

Show Grace

One of the attributes of God, for us to focus on when we are struggling with our response to our child’s disobedience and open rebellion, is His grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. We don’t deserve His grace; we can’t and never will deserve it. But because He is the God of all grace, He has done things for us to help us, to encourage us, and to motivate us to keep running the race that is set before (Hebrews 12:1-3). In Romans 2:4, Paul wrote “the kindness of God leads you to repentance”. Why is God kind to us? Because He is a God of grace… Amazing Grace! Really think about, ponder on, the words to probably the most famous song ever written:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come.
T’was grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.

We all realize that choices have consequences because God is holy and a God of justice. There are times to demonstrate to our child that “the way of the transgressor is hard” (KJV Proverbs 13:15) and that if you “sow to the flesh, you will reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8). However, there is always room for God’s grace. If your child is being disobedient, look for ways to show him/her some of the grace that God has shown you! It may not solve the problem, but it will help you respond to the problem in a way that is pleasing to God and will give the right opinion of God to your child and those around you.