It’s proven that the earlier we introduce children to the alphabet we prepare them for success in school. I believe the Bible speaks of another “letter” we’d best prepare our children with a proper understanding of…. It’s a Letter with the capability to embitter and kill the spirit of any child or adult for that matter, that demands perfection, and accepts no excuses. What letter is this? The Law. ..
First, Understand The Law Isn’t “Bad”
Romans 7-8 and Galatians 3-5 harmonize well to explain that the law isn’t bad, it is by all means necessary and helpful.
“This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:6)
We Need Both the Sink and Mirror
Imagine, if you have been gardening all day and no doubt your sweat drenched face has multiple layers of dirt pilled on it. However, you can only confirm this by looking in a mirror. In like manner, the Law is like a mirror that exposes the truth of where our existing soul dirt/sin is. Then we realize we have an even bigger problem when the mirror has absolutely no ability to help clean the problem! Just as the law is limited to showing us our sin but cannot help us remove it.
Where must we go to clean it? Yes, the sink! Just as the physical water washes dirt away Jesus says the Living Water is the very thing that washes away our sin.
“When he said “living water,’ he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him.” (John 7:39)
Having to keep clean without a sink will eventually kill us spiritually. As adults, the attempts at trying to be good will always leave us falling short. We will constantly feel a sense of distance from God… a feeling of “not good enough,” and like a failure. Life will lack purpose, feel like an uphill hopeless battle. Down right depressing. Children brought up under legalistic demands of perfectionism often feel the same way but tend to display their feelings by acting out in anger, mischievous, sometimes promiscuous behavior. Other times they simply withdraw. If your child is giving you these warning signals consider …
They may be feeling embittered (Col. 3:21) as the Bible warns. They desperately need to know your love is unconditional, and you are there to help them in their struggles with sin. Evaluate where you might be placing extra-biblical or unnecessary restrictions on them. Where you might be acting like the Law and not the Spirit. Which can translate to performance based acceptance if we aren’t careful…
List of Promises Not Rules
As you look at the 10 commandments in Exodus 20, know they are given to show the Israelites just how far off from God’s perfect character they were. Instead of thinking of these as a list of rules or regulations, how about consider them as a promise list or even an autobiography of God? For instance, instead of reading “you SHALL NOT steal”, as a command…. maybe read, “Because God does not steal and it is not His character, He plans to make it so you shall not even desire to steal.” That’s a promise! That is true change only accomplished by the Help of the Holy Spirit ushered in by the new covenant.
Mr. Law Has LEFT the Building!
With a little personification, I’ll share a story you can tell your children to help them understand the difference between the Law (that kills) and the life giving role of the Holy Spirit.
“Lets say it’s your first day at a new school and your teacher is really strict. Like REALLY! The kind of teacher that makes you sit up straight, no wiggling, no chewing gum, no talking -NO FUN! You might be thinking!
His name is Mr. Law. He never makes a single mistake! Oh, and another thing about him, he has a long checklist! He hands it out at the beginning of each day and expects to see it completed perfectly everyday.
You start to feel pretty discouraged. Maybe even angry. When you miss just ONE he puts a big “F” on your paper! Mr. Law’s expectations are killing you! You’re almost ready give up, ready to tell your parents your never going back to that school again when suddenly you hear the news …
Mr. Law is missing! I mean he has completely disappeared. GONE. No where to be found. Strange as it all seems, you’re quite relieved!
The new Teacher’s name is Mr. Life. Sounds better already, right?! What you notice right away is Mr. Life is perfect too, what’s the deal with all these perfect teachers anyway! No mistakes ever. But something seems different. He seems so loving and caring. He even lets the children sit on His lap during story time!
When you find out He has the same check list as Mr. Law, you jump up from your seat, ‘Oh no! Not Mr. Law’s list! I’m outta here!’ Running out of the classroom He catches you in His big strong arms and calms you. He says in the most kindest soft voice, ‘Please don’t run away. I’m not like any other teacher you’ve had, I Love You. This list is not a list for you to do alone! No, my child. This is my check list… it’s to show you all the things I plan to work on with you. All you have to do is just show up….be willing to let Me teach you and help you in all of these ways…the Principle sent me because He knew you needed help.'”
“One last thing,’ Mr. Life said, ‘in My class –No One Fails”
This is the life giving message of grace Jesus offers and by the help of the Spirit we will do all that God asks of us. These are the very words every child needs to hear from their parents, teachers and Church. Will you echo them?
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