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GRACE-FILLED PARENTING by Todd Perkins< /em>                                                                                           

Yesterday at the self-checkout line at Kroger, I watched an angry parent throw a bag of chips in their child’s face. While this did not hurt the boy, the act itself communicated a strong frustration from parent to child. I was very upset observing this close-hand. I wanted to pick up the bag of chips and throw it back in the mom’s face.

My frustration seems justifiable. This grown adult behaved like a three-year-old. Rather than operating from a perspective of maturity, she responded out of her emotions. The mom failed to show grace. She instead demonstrated to her child that the best way to deal with something that bothers you is to react with physical violence.

A few weekends ago I had the privilege of teaching a parenting workshop at my church. (The content of the seminar relies on the book, Give them Grace, by Elise Fitzpatrick. If you haven’t read this book, I encourage you to pick it up.)  The essential message for parents asks them not to depend on their abilities to raise a good child, or even aim for a well-behaved children. Rather moms and dads should trust God to save and sanctify them. This may be referred to as grace-filled parenting.

Grace-filled parenting recognizes that there is brokenness, rebellion, and trouble in the world. We can and should respond when things go wrong. However we should know that the Bible calls our rebellion “sin,” and tells us it’s a humanity-wide curse. God has responded in history by breaking the curse of sin by sending Jesus to die sacrificially for us.  Because of the atoning work of Jesus, we can have a new, vibrant life by depending on God and his grace.  He loves us unconditionally, and the gift of His love causes new life to begin to radically change our broken hearts. We begin to learn to live out of grace with one another, just like God gives grace to us.  Parents need Jesus so that they can respond to their children (who need Jesus) with grace.

Many parents might have a strong tendency for to respond to this direction with hesitancy. Some may say, “I agree parents should show children grace, but…”  The but represents a very interesting response. In grammar, the word but is a negating conjunction, communicates that the thoughts or ideas following the conjunction are more important than the first statement. Often some use but because we trust our logic more than God’s grace.

I wish I could share the goodness of Jesus with that chip-tossing momma.  If she only knew that the real problem was in her own heart, that sin was deceiving her to act selfishly.  If she could see how Jesus died for her and how He loves her, If she could know how to respond differently to her child, who simply needs the same salvation. 

Now that I share these things, I admit that it’s my own broken heart that needs grace as well. I wanted to respond to the angry mother out of my own frustrations. All of us need to enjoy more of God’s grace in response to our sins. Everyone should be aware that only Jesus saves us and gives us grace. By His grace, we should give that grace to others.