Sometimes, as I try to identify, discipline, and root out sin in my little daughter, the Lord does the exact same thing to me. A couple months ago, I taught my one-year-old some sign language. I could tell she was frustrated by her inability to communicate, and I thought that it might help if she could tell me what she wanted. In some ways, this has made life easier, but in others, more difficult. It has revealed to me on a new level how sinful her young heart already is.
Now, when she’s eating something she likes, even if she still has plenty in front of her, she signs “More!” She remains insistent even when I point out that she hasn’t finished what is on her plate. She’s ungrateful for what she has been given.
Or, if we’re all eating the same thing, she points to her daddy’s plate or mine and begs, “Please?” Attempts to convince her that we’re eating exactly the same food that she has are usually unsuccessful, and often a meltdown ensues. She covets what others have.
As I’ve prayed for wisdom on how to instill thankfulness and contentment in my little girl, the Lord has graciously revealed the same sins in my own heart. I, too, am ungrateful and covetous. For how often do I demand something from God, while failing to acknowledge that He has already given me more than I could ever possibly deserve? And how many times have I looked at what others have and wished it was mine, while ignoring the abundant generosity already lavished on me by His kindness? Perhaps I look a little less obnoxious in my sin than my daughter, but it doesn’t mean that those sins aren’t there.
Gratitude and contentment are difficult virtues to teach a toddler, but too often I am just as resistant when God wants to instill them in me.
It is easy—oh, so easy!—to look at our children (or husband, or neighbors, or coworkers) and attempt to point out and root out the sin in their lives (and as Christians, we ought to hold one another accountable and spur one another on) but so much more difficult to look inward and do the same with the sin we will inevitably find there.
God is kind enough to discipline those he loves and carry on to completion the good work he has begun in us, and He can use even the most mundane of circumstances (like tantrums at the dinner table) to do it. So as you teach your children, allow Him to teach you and show you your own sin, too. For though we are responsible for and have authority over our children as God has ordained, we too, along with them, approach His throne as sinners desperately in need of mercy and grace.