I got an email this morning with the a catchy subject line: Addressing the Primary Root of Disobedience
Catchy line. Made me open it. I was surprised at what I read: a long opinion on the importance of respect in the house (a very important thing!) and the lifelong rewards of learning to respect your parents (no argument there) . What surprised me was absolutely no mention of why anyone has the inclination or urge to disrespect in the first place. To teach the importance and rewards of respect without helping your child understand why they do it is more than useless; such teaching would tend to promote the idea that a child's behavior and choices will be his or her salvation. If you are very, very good, then you will not do these things; and if you do these things, you are very, very bad. Respect is an extremely important behavior to learn and teach, but to teach it without teaching law (you are born a sinner and are separated from God because of your sins) and gospel ( Christ died to save you from the penalty of your sins. Go forth and live in thanksgiving and praise for your salvation). That's how I read this article. How about you?
Two of your kids are fighting, another one won't pick up his toys, and your teenager just revealed the tattoo she got without your permission. You're exhausted, and all you want is peace.
You're not alone.
For many, disciplining children is a daily challenge. When it comes to discipline in my home, I only have one rule: respect.
Disrespect is the primary root of disobedience. Looking through Scripture, Adam and Eve sinned because they did not respect God's command. Cain killed Abel because he did not respect his brother's life. Lying, stealing, vandalism, strife and disobedience stem from an attitude of disrespect toward someone or something.
When your toddler pulls the dog's tail or your teenager rolls her eyes, it's — you guessed it — disrespect.
I'd choose this message instead:
Sin is the primary root of disobedience. Looking through Scripture, Adam and Eve sinned because they did not respect God's command. Cain killed Abel because he did not respect his brother's life. Lying, stealing, vandalism, strife and disobedience and disrespect stem from sin.
When your toddler pulls the dog's tail or your teenager rolls her eyes, it's — you guessed it — sin.
The close of the article is also off base in its clear message that its our job to master behavior and God is there to fill in the gaps if (not when) we fail. I've known many teens who successfully learned to act saintly while in their parents home, only to be completely unprepared to deal with sin issues on their own.
Emphasizing respect and honoring people are biblical concepts. Believers are told to respect the law (Proverbs 13:13), honor parents (Deuteronomy 5:16) and live lives worthy of respect (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). With respect woven throughout Scripture, it's no wonder that it makes for a strong foundation for family and offers meaningful reward.
When I set a standard of respect in my home, the reward was relationship. My children became people I liked to have around. They trusted me as someone who respected and believed in them. Peace reigned and communication flowed between us.
But I didn't do this alone. God has been my guide and my support. His wisdom and strength carried me through the times when I felt too weary to press forward. His grace made up the difference when I fell short. And ultimately, He was my inspiration for my standard of respect.
I see a danger in teaching our children that we will have a relationship only if they act correctly. Scripture teaches that all of our children are born into sin and are in need of a savior. Although I strive to be someone who is worthy of imitation, I have made it a point to teach my children that I am in the same boat as they are. I instead point them to the cross. It is the ultimate act of pure grace that God created a way for us to have a relationship with him through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ. The best models of God's grace I've seen are those who show others grace at the most unexpected moments...when least deserved.