We asked our daughter recently what she thought the biggest need was in homes of her friends. She answered without hesitation: Grace. “I want all my friends’ parents to have more grace with their kids. I want them to support them in what they are doing and what they are involved in by showing up and being there for them.”
So that got us thinking about what a grace-filled home looks like. Of course, they aren’t perfect homes – hence the need for grace. But here are some ideas to ponder:
• Grace is based on the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
• Legalism is based in fear and performance.
• Grace-filled homes recognizes that sin (and sinful elements) are in the home and seeks solutions through the Lord for this>
• Legalism builds walls with rules around the family in a futile attempt to keep sin out (not that you shouldn’t work to protect your kids…but ultimately it is impossible to keep everything out).
• Grace-filled homes understand that kids struggle with sin and teaches them to rely on the Holy Spirit for power to overcome.
• Legalism requires kids to be good and punishes when they are not.
• Grace calls children to the next level.
• Legalism has a standard children can never achieve.
One of my favorite passages of all-time is John 1:14, The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I love the description of Jesus as full of grace and truth. I think the order of this report is all important. You see, those who believed in the Yahweh, the Jews, already had truth. They had lots of it in the Law – the rules for holy living. Of course, there was grace in that as well. But in the religious implementation of those laws in Israel – the scribes, Pharisees, Saducees, Chief Priest, etc. there was not grace. Just ask the woman caught in adultery in John 8.
So when Jesus showed us God’s glory – the FIRST thing we noticed was the grace. The truth was there, of course…the call for holy and righteous living…but it was the grace that stood out. Ultimately, we saw that grace in the cross.
And it’s not that there was more grace than truth…just a changed emphasis (according to John). Both grace and truth are needed in parenting, but Christine and I feel that grace should be the first characteristic that stands out in our parenting.
Think about it…if grace is defined as the favor of God as shown by his blessing, then that should define parenting. We show our children favor by blessing them.
We have several roles as parents: protecting our kids, leading them to Jesus, and preparing them for the future on their own. Since being a kid is a learning process, it requires the right balance of grace and discipline.
Too much discipline and watch your kids shut down before your eyes – or rebel. Too much grace and your kids grow up to be undisciplined hooligans.
How do you show your kids grace? Here are a couple principles taken from the story of Jacob giving his birthright to Isaac.
1. Meaningful Touch (Gen. 27:26)
In the OT and the ancient near east, blessing always began with meaningful touch. For example, when Isaac wanted to bless his son, he begins with the statement “Come here, my son, and kiss me.” And this, of course, is not an isolated incident in the Scriptures. God made the sense of touch very important to humans.
Touch is important. It is one of the senses God gave us and it is part of our blessing. All throughout Scripture we see meaningful touch providing a caring background for words that were spoken: hugging, kissing, laying on of hands. (Jesus and John – impartation of Holy Spirit to the Samaritans in Acts)
2. A Spoken Message (Gen. 27:27)
The Greek word for blessing, eulogia, (eulogy) literally means “a good word.” In other words, by definition, a showing grace and blessing includes speech. Often, especially in our homes, we feel we can communicate acceptance and love simply by our presence. But it’s not true. Blessing is only truly given when it is spoken.
Abraham spoke his blessing over Isaac, Isaac spoke his blessing to Jacob, Jacob verbally blessed his 12 sons and two of his grandchildren. Think about it. Would you like to know someone has good thoughts about you, or would you like to hear them expressed?
God thinks great thoughts about us – has great plans for us. Are they secret, hidden in the divine counsel? Of course not. He’s written them for us. He wants us to know them. He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. And when he truly determined to bless us with his Son, John tells us it was his Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Blessings need to be spoken.
3. Attaching High Value (Gen. 27:27-29)
We believe God shows us grace – not because we’ve done anything to earn it – but because he loves us. In the same way, when we show grace to our kids we show them they have intrinsic value, both to us and to the Lord.
Interestingly, that same principle goes along with discipline, too. For the Bible tells us God disciplines those whom he loves. “Son, daughter, we love you too much to act in such a way that devalues who you are to the Lord and us.”
4. Picture a Special Future (Gen. 27:27-29)
As Christians, we believe that God has great plans for each of us. Showing grace to someone says that they aren’t defined by their mistake. That it is something in the past which doesn’t have to affect their future. When we bless others, then part of our job is to encourage them as they go and help them see and find God’s plan for them.
5. An Active Commitment (Gen. 27:38-40)
The last part of the blessing involves the responsibility that goes with giving the blessing. It’s one thing to say nice things to someone. That doesn’t take commitment. But to really bless someone does take commitment and involvement.
It means encouraging, walking through mistakes with the child, staying positive, continuing praying for the child, etc.
It’s not always easy to show grace. It can be painful sometimes. Like when God sent his Son Jesus to give us grace, or when Jesus stuck to his commitment to set us free from our sins. The blessing they gave, cost them both dearly. You see, blessing are active commitments to the well-being of the person we want to bless.