Parenting Principles -Balancing Law and Grace

Principle: Your children need God’s law, but you cannot ask the law to do what...
March 1, 2018

Principle: Your children need God’s law, but you cannot ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish.

As Christian parents, many of us know that our children are born with a desperation for God’s law. They come into the world not knowing what is true or what is false. They cannot distinguish between good or bad, and right and wrong. Ted Tripp says, “they need the grace of wisdom that God’s law alone can give.” He further says, that apart from God’s law, humans would not know how they are supposed to think, what they are to desire, and how they should speak and behave. You may be saying to yourself at this point, “What is God’s law?” It is God’s rules for life. It is His teaching He gives us in the Bible. It is His instructional manual for us, which is another reason we must strive to know God’s word. One reason the law is important is that the law was given to us to protect us from ourselves. Think about that for a moment. We get the opportunity to teach our kids about God’s law and His truth in Scripture, to help our kids be discerning and not destroy themselves. The law also exposes sin and reveals the need for Jesus. As many already know, our children come into the world sinners. We as their parents came into the world as sinners. We need God’s law, and it is our responsibility to teach that to them.

However, there are weaknesses to the law. Tripp says, “your children need the law of God in their lives, but it is very dangerous as a parent to daily ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish.” Are we as parents guilty of that? Have we reduced Christian parenting to being a “faithful lawgiver”, “arresting officer”, “prosecutor”, “judge,” and “jailer?”  Surely Christian parenting is more than just a set of rules we enforce? Do we get mad at our kids because they’re breaking God’s law, or because they get in the way of our law (something we want)?

This is where grace comes into focus. Tripp says, “without the intervention of God’s grace, your children will not be who they are supposed to be or do what they are supposed to do.” We have to remember sin is the real problem in their life. The law does not have the ability to deliver our kids from their sinful mess. They must receive God’s forgiving and transforming grace in order to be delivered from themselves. As adults, we need the same grace and rescuing as much as our children. We are not exempt from that same need. “As parents we need to be rescued from our addiction to the law of our comfort, pleasure, success, and control. It’s not our children’s sin that is in the way of good parenting; it’s our tendency to make parenting about our little kingdom of wants, needs, and desires.” We must be reminded that our children were not created and given to us for us, but for God and their good.

Practically speaking, it is our responsibility to take many opportunities to share the gospel with our children. We must be intentional to have those conversations where we share with them our salvation story; and we must confront them with the truth of the gospel. Next, we must model grace to our children. Just as God is our Father and we need His grace in our lives, we need to model that for our children also. “If we are going to give grace to our children, we need to confess that we are but children in daily need of the Father’s care.”  As we confess and confront our sin, we can be parents that will lead our children to the same grace we receive.

Information taken from the book: (Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family) by Paul David Tripp