“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” Hebrews 8:10b-11
Raising Our Children in True Freedom
Learning to love my children like Jesus loves me has been a long journey—a journey I’m still walking. False ideas I carry about His character constantly come crashing down. Through the Scriptures and His Spirit, I learn who He really is: He is love, and that covers a lot of stuff, including mistakes and sin. I need to set aside my expectations and ideals in order to embrace His way. Things that are very important to me take a back seat, while what’s true according to the Word now occupies the throne of my heart. You see, a mind directed by the flesh constantly disagrees with the character of the Spirit (read Romans 8:7). In the same way, our natural ideas about child training clash with the teachings of Jesus.
Parenting from our flesh comes so easily and naturally! We want perfect kids, so our mind exalts perfectionism. We like hard-core rules and punishment because they look like neat lines that make sense and keep our kids in check. Sadly, we often want to judge them rather than disciple and administer mercy. You see, if we have love deficits in our own hearts, the temptation of raising robot kids without love and relationship will pop up continually. This is not God’s heart! It fails because outward pressure and containment don’t actually bring lasting change in us or our children. The proof is in the pudding: what happens when the restrictions are removed?
If we are honest, what we desire most as a parent is for our kids to come to love Jesus and obey Him when we aren’t around, right? At least that’s what I desire as a mom. I want them to be clean from the inside out and to be self-governed so they will do the right thing even when the rules are gone. But how is that even possible?
There is no true hope beyond Jesus. He alone makes freedom attainable. His overcoming power is so much greater than our feeble restrictions and boundaries! Even when our children are young, it’s our parental mandate to lead them to Him. Their “want to’s” change when they are born of His Spirit because He miraculously writes His laws on their hearts. It’s our job to nurture them in the teachings of Jesus, and it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to bring the freedom!
In John 8:31b-32, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” How do we become disciples of Jesus? By obeying and living love—His way. Our children become His followers too as they experience Him through us. These teachings are definitely meant to be passed on to them. We shouldn’t hypocritically hold our kids captive when God has provided a lasting remedy! It’s good for us to re-evaluate our rules, ideas, and methods compared to our Lord’s. Lest we forget, Jesus helped us out by reaching the perfect standard when He died as a spotless, sinless sacrifice. We should not expect one ounce more of our children than we expect of ourselves.
Mom, learn to give yourself grace. We freely give when we freely receive, and this is where it all begins. It’s okay to consult God before you deal with your child’s bad attitude and to pray for His counsel before you react. The things He reveals when we ask are astounding and eye-opening, even though it may take time! Our own hands only provide a temporary fix, often keeping us from getting revelation from the Giver of Life. Removing our own ideas and trading them for God’s truth brings answers. Grace (what He gives us on a daily basis) exposes what’s in our hearts, simultaneously revealing our need for Him too. When He comes into the picture, into our story, we become empowered to live above sin. In fact, sin loses its tight grip. We want our kids to live in this place of freedom as well.
God whispers such excellent answers for the big problems our kids face. As a mom, we must learn to be patient and listen. Remind your children often (especially when they mess up) of their true identity—God’s child. If they are not yet saved, explain that Jesus holds the key to sin and it’s not a problem anymore. Tell your children in plain words the salvation story. Jesus paid the price for all sin—past, present, and future. Jesus makes all things new. Hold your children if you can, and listen to their hearts. Say, “You are dearly loved.” Instead of resorting to your old behavior of speaking harsh, condemning words, say a blessing! Assure them that you will always love them, no matter what. You know why? Because that’s how Jesus treats all of His children. Soon your children will begin to see themselves as God does, and so will you. Blessing your children with life-giving words is a huge key to their freedom!
Blessings and Love,
- Do you understand the true character of God? (The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was the exact representation of the Father.)
- Do you believe that the way Jesus lived and the radical ideas He taught on earth are straight from the heart of God?
- What are some false ideals or actions, contrary to God’s Word, that you have placed on your children?
- How can you replace them and ultimately lead your children to freedom?
Read Matthew 5-7 (the teachings of Jesus) and meditate on them.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you live like Him, then surrender your flesh for His better way.
Mari Jo had an encounter with the living God in 2000, and was freed from the bondage of legalism. She is passionate about Jesus and his love, and desires for everyone to know He is alive!