Dear Mommas and Poppas, when was the last time you sinned? How many of you have a habitual sin that you do over and over, even though you know you shouldn't? How many of you act on an unkind, angry impulse on occasion, only to deeply regret your actions afterward?
It would be dishonest of me to tell you that I, a redeemed daughter of God, do not struggle with sin.
And how does my Father respond?
The first thing my Father does, because of His Son's sacrifice, is to draw me to Himself. He does not abandon me. He does not turn His face away from me in disgust, though my sin is vile, and it reaps a rotten harvest.
Yes, there is no denying that sin brings despair and corruption. Like that time I was angry and yelled at my husband: a rift formed in our relationship, my children became insecure, I felt sick and hopeless.
But when we sin, because of Jesus, anytime we choose to, we can call out to God, to our Abba, Father, and He will meet us where we are at. We do not have to cower in fear, terrified of what consequence He might impose on us for the terrible destruction we have wrought, because, don't you see, child? Sin brings death, misery, ugliness.
Yet, Jesus is our Redeemer. He is our hope in the midst of our despair.
It is a beautifully crafted lie of the Deceiver which says that when we are tangled up in our messes, the only way out is for God to come after us with a whip, for Him to make us pay for what we have done before our relationship with Him can be restored.
Dear parent, every time you spank or punish your little child for his or her often impulsive, often unintended, wrongdoing, you are giving your child a graphic, very misleading, picture of the way that God deals with His children.
The picture is this: When you do wrong, God uses His hand to hurt you. Yes, He inflicts purposeful pain on you. (hmm...doesn't that sound a bit like God is sitting up in heaven, concocting various consequences that will hurt enough to keep us from acting like we shouldn't) "Shame on you, you stupid child! Why did you have to go and do that again? You only got what you deserved!" God seems to shout.
No, I am not saying that God doesn't allow us to experience pain at times--but the purpose of this pain is for us to cry out to Him for help, not to get us to stop acting so bad, not to somehow cleanse us from sin-guilt. Think of the prodigal son--the loving daddy in that picture did not bail his son out of the consequences of his bad choices. Why not? Because the source of life and happiness for that prodigal child was only to be found in his Dad. When the prodigal returned home, the daddy welcomed him with open arms; he did not punish him first, and the son received true life from his Father.
Dear child of God, mommy or daddy, allow me to be very direct: How can you meet out punishment on your children for the things that they did wrong, the things that they cannot go back and change, even if they want to, when GOD DOES NOT DEAL WITH YOU IN THAT MANNER?
If you want to give to your children what you get from God when you do wrong, it should look something like this: "Son, what you did was wrong. It is wrong to hurt others, and when you pushed your sister, that was wrong. You must face what you have done wrong; you must face the fact that you have hurt her, and apologize to her. Although what you did was wrong, I am not going to abandon you. I forgive you. I am going to walk beside you as we work on setting things right. Your sister may not forgive you. You may have to wait a long time for your relationship with her to be restored. But I will be beside you all along the way. I will not abandon you or turn my back on you."
God is not a pushover. When we sin, His Spirit will work to open our eyes to the fact that what we are doing is wrong. The longer we continue in sin, the more deaf we will be to the still, small voice that is our Daddy, calling us home. But, no matter how long we persist, as soon as we see our sin, as soon as we recognize the ugliness of a life apart from our Father, we see that He has been there waiting for us all the time, arms open wide, full of love.
Moms and Dads, meet your children where they are at. Teach them right and wrong; don't block the consequences that their wrongdoing inevitably brings. But BE THERE FOR THEM, not against them, applying a belt, a switch, or a hand, to their little bodies, when they make wrong choices, when they wreak havoc because they are too weak to deny their impulses. MEET THEM WHERE THEY ARE AT, walk with them through the consequences, loving them all the time. DON'T be the hypocrite and take the stance of judge, jury, and jail time, when, EVERY DAY, you yourself struggle with bouts of wrong behavior, and God is there for you, full of love, without reproach.