What does the Gospel have to do with parenting?
Everything. Absolutely everything.
That's my short answer to the question bound up in the title of this blog post. The Gospel has everything to do with parenting, and parenting has everything to do with the Gospel. And the Good Lord knew what He was doing when He put sinners together in families — charging moms and dads who have been saved by grace to lead with grace.
Unfortunately, nothing blind-sides me in my parenting more than my child's blatant sin. And I'm not alone in this. I regularly receive letters from moms and dads confessing their child's disrespect and on-going sin as the #1 cause of their most triggered parenting problems.
However, I've come to realize that sin is a necessary part of the Gospel equation for without it we would never need a Savior. Romans 5:8 reminds us that "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
We were saved from our sin, while we were still sinners. And yet, there is nothing quite like our children's sin that threatens to undo us.
Last year one of my children sinned...BIG TIME. It wasn't a small, bubble-gum-pilfering-sized sin, but an ugly one etched into the leg of a school desk. And it threatened to undo me for a time.
As I sat crying on the outside of his bedroom door, my child was crying on the inside, whimpering the word, "Mom, please come here. I need you. I can't do this on my own."
And so, I walked into his room, sat at the foot of his bed, and used that big, ugly sin as an opportunity to lead him to my Savior. Friends, don't you know that sin is the doorway through which we get to walk our children to Jesus? Without sin, they'd never know their need.
What a very hard privilege we have to bear.
Later that night, as I talked to a dear friend on the phone, she asked me how my boy and I were doing and I confessed, "We spent the afternoon at the feet of Jesus."
"What an incredible place to be," she exclaimed! Even now, my heart swells at the thought of it.
Would we like for our children to stop their sinning? Would it be more convenient for us if they would simply obey? Of course, it would be delightful! But the reality and the responsibility of Gospel-minded mothering is to teach them the love of God, in the midst of their sinfulness. He demonstrated His love toward us smack-dab in the middle of our sin, and we get to model it with our own demonstrative, long-suffering love. We preach it to them as we walk them down the Roman road because we know the way! We know the way to truth and forgiveness and grace because we've crawled back on bloodied knees ourselves.
Who better to lead them there?
Of course, we want their lives free from sin. But true freedom comes when we repent from our sin and experience the magnificence of forgiveness. Our tendency is to nag them to right behavior, blowing up with a torrent of stressed-out exclamations. But, without the Gospel at the very center of our parenting, we're just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, what works.
The Gospel works.
The Gospel keeps loving-forward when we feel like digging our heels in and standing our ground, or worse, falling back into the mud and the mire of our old sin-tendencies, right beside our kids. The Gospel moves them forward and invites us to come along with Grace as our guide, leading us as we lead them. Gospel love is Jesus love, and Jesus loved to the 'enth degree, all the way to the cross. Sometimes parenting is a lot like lugging a cross around, but we're not really, because our battered and bruised Jesus lugged it for us, all the way up Calvary's hill. Therefore, we get to parent from a place of victory! Like the old hymn declares triumphantly...
"Victory in Jesus, our Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming love."
That's the victory-reality we live in each day — not a victim-reality, but a victory-reality. Victorious! We get to parent victoriously because we ourselves walked through the doorpost of sin, in the land of the Gospel.
Forgiven, so we're able to forgive.
Accepted, so we're able to accept.
Comforted, so we're able to comfort...
...instead of criticizing our kids.
I know that some days (and sometimes each day) you feel like a victim, Mom. But this is the Gospel truth: Jesus was the ultimate victim. He died for our sins, and our kids' sins, too.
It's all so simple, when we boil our parenting down to the Gospel and let it simmer in our hearts. Oh, the fragrance of this simple truth: because Christ was our victimized scapegoat, we get to parent in victory, even when our kids do the same wrong they did yesterday. Even then.
With the Gospel at the very center of our mothering, we get a whole new perspective about our children's sin. While their sin used to threaten to undo us, because of our old view of parenting, we now see their sin as the narrow, glorious doorway through which we can walk them to Christ.
When our kids do wrong, moms and dads, we don't need to get all stressed out, emotional, angry, and hurt. When our kids do wrong, we can still do right. The essence of the Gospel is that "while we were sinners, Christ died for us." He carried that cross for us, and He carried it for them. Can't we, like Him, extend grace when our children sin? Our tendency, of course, is to lament our victimized state and victimize them back, because hurt people — hurt people.
Jesus took the ultimate hurt when He allowed Himself to be our scapegoat, our scape-victim. "Forgive them," He cried to the Father, "for they don't know what they're doing."
The goal is the Gospel, always...
Because the Gospel, in and of itself, is always a free and undeserved gift, I am giving away my favorite print from our fall series. Just click here to sign up and they will head straight to your inbox! The very center-most chapter in Amber Lia and my new book...