07 December 2006

Logs and Specks, II

So, how have Drew and I begun to apply the truths I've discussed in these last few posts to our children?

First of all, we’ve taught them from Matthew 7, going through with them what I’ve been discussing here. This was done when no one was in the middle of overt and obvious sin. In other words, it wasn’t aimed at any one person in particular, and I included examples from my own life as we discussed this. I wanted them to realize that I don’t think I’m above this, but that it must apply to me, too.

We’ve also listened to CJ Mahaney’s sermon entitled Cravings and Conflict, at least a couple of times already and we’ll listen to it plenty more through the coming years as our little ones grow. (It helped that we all heard it together for the first time when CJ was visiting and preached one Sunday morning.)

These teachings have given us some common language for dealing with our children’s sin (and our own). I can now calmly ask them, “Where’s your log?” or “What are you craving?” or “Who are you focused on right now?” as shortcuts to pointing them back to their own hearts and the sin therein when conflict arises. Another question I ask my older kids is, “What idol are you worshipping right now?”

Humility on my part is required. Am I willing to confess my own sin to my children and ask their forgiveness? Or do I try to brush my own sins under the rug?
And, just as I need to get to the root of my sin, I must try to teach my children to dig for their own roots. If we don’t get to the root of the sin, but focus on changing behaviour, we haven’t done our children any favors.

These truths come up often when discussing our weekly sermons. We are truly blessed in our church leadership and in the teaching we receive week after week as we learn to apply the gospel to all of life.

We also tease one another a bit. We sing a wonderful song at church which includes the following lyric: “It’s all about you, Jesus, and all this is for you, for your glory and your fame. It’s not about me, as if you should do things my way, you alone are God and I surrender to your name.” When we see self-centeredness beginning to manifest itself, sometimes we start singing this song, only we change “Jesus” to the name of the person who’s focused on himself at the moment. We usually only get to “It’s not about me, as if you should do things my way,” if even that far. The kids get the drift and know where the song is headed. This sounds horrible as I read it, but it’s done gently, with a big grin, and helps cut to the heart of the matter in a way that helps the person involved surrender much more easily than a scolding would.

Another aspect of this that I’ve recently begun to apprehend is that sometimes school needs to be put on hold while we work on these heart issues. If my kids can multiply and read Latin, but don’t know how to apply the gospel to the sin in their hearts, have I really served them well?
These are issues that can be talked about in the context of literary or film characters. For example, as we discuss Lizzie Bennett’s and Mr. Darcy’s attitudes toward one another in these terms (“What is Lizzie craving?” or “What’s the log in Darcy’s eye?”), the kids don’t feel attacked, but are learning to discern and think in these terms.

Sanctification is a process, a step-by-step, line-upon-line process. We can’t afford to be too busy for this process, nor can we rush it. God is patient with us and so must we be with our children. If we can deal with our own logs, our children will understand that we’re on their side as we help them deal with their specks.

Next, I’ll try to post some resources, books and downloadable sermons, to help these truths become functional in daily life.

I feel like I need to include a disclaimer here. I’m still very much in process and haven’t arrived by any stretch of the imagination. I’m writing this as much for myself (to reinforce it) as for anyone who may read it.

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