“What does it mean to live a Cross-centered life?” begins a recent post at The Shepherd’s Scrapbook. “To my life situation and my own heart, the Cross could be applied a thousand ways.” There may be a thousand ways, but the first example offered has stuck with me all week: “Parenting by encouraging (grace), not in angry threats (legalism).”
That’s got me thinking about the way that I parent. I believe in boundaries and appropriate discipline. Yet I also believe in grace. How does one find make that work? By understanding and applying the gospel even to parenting.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). There’s that contrast, I think: legalism and something else that’s healthy and life-giving. It’s a struggle that many of us fathers face, even if we know better.
Makes me think of this: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13) Pretty amazing. The psalmist compares God’s compassion to the compassion that fathers have. Does my compassion compare to God’s? Humbling when you think about it.
Do I parent my kids the way that God treats me? Do I show them as much grace as he shows to me?
It could be that parenting helps us grow into appreciating how much grace we receive from God. Parents can spend their entire lives correcting kids and helping them follow the rules. Or, they can create an atmosphere of grace that makes obedience a delight rather than a duty. It could be that Eugene Peterson’s got it right when he subtitled his book Like Dew Your Youth. The subtitle is Growing Up with Your Teenager. Maybe parenting helps us grow up into grace.