I think one of the most difficult challenges in being a parent in a large family is to decide nearly every minute of the day whether your child (or spouse, or relative) needs to be pointed to the Law first and punished immediately, or shown grace first.  What is the best way to motivate children to change their sinful ways?

As Christians, we are to read, study, know, and embrace both the Old Testament and the New Testament portions of the Bible, God’s holy and unerring word. 

The Old Testament is filled with history (His Story) of the Hebrews, their families, their kinsman, and their surrounding enemies. Each and every time Israel disobeyed the Law, it seemed they fell into a fate worse than death.  We do not want  our children (or ourselves) to fall in to this type of besetting, generational sin.

The New Testament is filled with the Grace of God in the birth and life of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.  The Hebrews, and the gentiles, still disobeyed God’s law.  However, Christ came to save!  Those who believed in Him were saved by His grace.  His death on the cross at Calvary was the ultimate and final sacrifice to atone for sin.  Resurrected, He lives forever and now we,too, can know Christ as Savior and Lord, and be saved alone by His Grace.

Nothing we can do for ourselves will save us from God’s judgement on our sins when we  disobey God’s law.  Only our belief in Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, wherein He shows us grace, will save us from eternal damnation for our sins.  As soon as we repent, He forgives us! We want to show this type of grace to our children so they see the love of Christ,  are drawn to Him, and ultimately entrust their whole lives to Him.

My first response when one of my children disobeys the ‘house rules’ is to lecture about the Law, then invoke the consequences for such a violation.  Afterall, we need to hold our children accountable to God’s Law, teach them to repent of their sin, turn from it, and not draw others into it, as well.

But, perhaps my initial response should be Grace?  The older I get, when I sin, the more I understand that my heart is more willing to submit to authority when grace is shown to me first, then the law is upheld, and the consequences of my actions follow.

The last time I was stopped by a highway patrolman, he was very nice as he informed me of my speeding violation.  He could have written me a ticket, but instead he showed me grace and gave me a warning.  My heart slowed, my breathing regulated, and I got back on the road with a smile.  Not because I fooled him, but because he showed me grace.  I have been consistently compliant with the speed limit and rules of the road ever since.

Isn’t the purpose of correction and discipline to keep our kids obedient to God so they have a better life, living in His blessing?  Why do we have to respond in anger, reciting the Law and its’ consequences, first?  My husband over the years has softened his heart in dealing with our children.  I see amazing results!  They respond to him out of love, not fear.  Sometimes, he actually has to correct his ‘practically perfect in every way’ wife, me!  He does it is from his loving heart with a compassionate voice.  How tenderly I melt into his leadership and quickly attempt to change my heart attitude and actions!

Adopted children have known a lot of fear in their life before coming into our lives.  Fear is the opposite of love.  To cast out their fears, love is the antidote.  Grace is the ultimate expression of love.  Anger stops love.  How much more will our children willingly respond to our correction if we do it in love, not in anger?

Next time one of my kids breaks the house rules, I’m going to show grace by first just being together with that child, breathing and talking.  Once I have his/her attentive heart, I can reiterate the house rules, and then we can discuss what will help him/her turn from the sinful behavior.  Afterall, shouldn’t we treat our kids with the same love, respect, and grace we like to be shown?