Why Am I Writing This?
Legalism is as deadly to parenting as it is to all other areas of Christian life. That is why I am writing this testimony–I pray that you will learn from my sins. Legalism is a destructive force in families that masquerades as good discipline, consistency, or even “good parenting”. Legalism is probably embedded in family traditions and culture. The concept of legalism I am using is simple: living with an emphasis on rules over God’s grace. God’s grace is his unmerited favor. His favor toward us appears in all of our lives, for instance, in the air we breath, the food we eat, and in the families, jobs, and homes that we have. God’s special grace on those who follow his Son appears, for instance, in the spiritual gifts he gives to Christians and of supreme importance his favor appears in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in giving his Son to die on the cross to pay for our sins so that by this amazing grace, through our faith, we may be saved from hell and live eternally with God in heaven. (ESV, Ephesians 2:1-10) If you have not placed your sincere faith in Christ, that is the first thing you can do for yourself and for your children, to the glory of God.
How are grace and rules related? Understanding and embracing God’s grace, in all its forms, and keeping Christ’s sacrifice at the forefront every day, motivates us to want to please and honor God. Isn’t that the attitude you want for your children!? Living by grace, we voluntarily seek to please and honor our Lord with every thought, word, and deed. We voluntarily seek to expand the ways we please and honor him. In doing so we freely live within an ever expanding universe of love for Jesus Christ and for his ways and for his thoughts. Because God is infinite, and we seek to live in his universe of righteousness, we have infinite freedom. Living by rules, though, we seek to know only the boundary established by the rules so that we can exploit every bit of space allowed by the rules. Our freedom is limited by the rules because rules are finite and rigid, and so only by exploiting all the space within the boundary can we maximize our freedom. In practice, we either edge as close to the boundary as possible–which is foolish(!), or we set up more rules to be sure we stay away from the boundary–which further reduces our freedom. Living by rules we find ourselves asking, “Am I allowed or required to do this?” instead of, “Will this please and honor my Lord?” Living by rules, we impose on everyone around us our personal interpretation of the rules. Living by grace, we know that God sheds his grace differently on each person and therefore we are humble, understanding, forgiving, and loving toward others. Can you see the implications for parenting? Continue reading