Author: Pastor Keith Knight
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Every time I go to the dentist, I go knowing that I will be sooooo tempted to lie. It all comes down to one question: ‘have you been brushing and flossing regularly?’
Now….technically I can say ‘yes I have!’ as long as I’m okay with knowing that the word regularly means something different for me than it does for my dentist. But really, this exchange highlights a problem that translates to ALL of us, and not just in our attempt to avoid the disapproving rebuke of our dental care provider.
When we create environments in which our kids are just waiting for those ‘behavior’ questions, we are ultimately setting them up to lie, because we completely underestimate the inherent power of shame inside all of us. Because of our sin nature, we live with an instinct of self-protection, which means spontaneous lying comes easy in moments when we feel that it will allow us to avoid the pain of being exposed.
Am I saying we don’t hold our kids to behavioral standards? NO. We would never posit to our dentist that we shouldn’t brush and floss regularly, but when we are forced to expose ourselves to our failure, we run to the cover of a better image, because in that moment we have no way to argue that the dentist is wrong in their expectation of good hygiene. What I AM saying is that our parenting has to be more than just an ‘exam’ of asking our children, ‘are you doing the right things?’ We have to get to the ‘root’ (pardon the pun) of the issue. OUR SIN. Not ‘their’ sin, but all of our sin. When we look at our calling as parents as helping our kids be ‘cleaner’ with ‘better exams’ then we are missing the point. The point is the heart behind the behavior.
If I heard my dentist say, ‘I know it’s hard to ALWAYS brush and floss, but I just want you to understand why you need it and help you with it’ then I’d probably be a little less nervous to answer the question. If our kids hear us say, ‘I know it’s hard to live in holiness, but I want you to understand why you need Jesus so much’ then I’m pretty sure that we might experience a Gospel moment with our children.
We must be careful to never give our kids the idea that what Christ has done on the cross is not enough. We have to keep in front of them that confession and release of our sin is not for the purpose of being ashamed, but letting go of the shame of not measuring up. Let’s lead our kids in understanding the shame-destroying power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.