gospel centered

FAIRNESS vs GOSPEL OPPORTUNITY IN PARENTING

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by Debbie Huber

Have you ever had a situation where you felt your child was treated unfairly?  Has it happened in your church?  How did you, as a parent, respond?

Maybe your child was not chosen for a solo or asked to be a student leader in the youth group.  Maybe your child was not invited to a sleepover or to a birthday party.  Maybe it seemed like someone in authority was unfair to your child (a coach, a Sunday School teacher or youth group leader, etc.).  These things can hurt and cause disappointment.  As parents, it is hard to see our children sad and disappointed.

How should we, as Christian parents respond?

Unfortunately many times a response is seen in the church that mirrors how the world would react.  It is natural for feel sad for your child’s hurt feelings and to comfort them. But hurt feelings can easily turn into selfishness as children dwell on the “Why me?”. 

Frequently selfishness is validated by the parent letting the child know that their disappointment is justified because it was not fair.  Rather than focusing on the godly response, “fairness” becomes the primary focus.  And often the parent will attempt to fix things by making sure that the appropriate person in authority hears about your child’s hurt feelings and the unfairness of the situation. 

So how can we turn this situation into a gospel opportunity?  

When we deal with situations from the perspective of fairness, the gospel message is lost.  Emphasizing the fairness of the situation is really feeding into our natural tendency toward selfishness. That our child’s rights are more important than grace, mercy and love for others. 

This is the opportunity to turn the situation into helping our child see his great need for the gospel as we lovingly speak to them gospel truths in their disappointment.

God in His great mercy knows the tendencies of our hearts to seek out our rights.   

Remind them of the most unfair thing of all: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8.  The perfect, sinless Jesus became sin in our place so we can stand before God with the sinless righteousness of Christ.  This isn’t fair but it is a precious gift that God gives us through Christ. 

Help them to see that they cannot fix this disappointment and selfishness on their own and that is why Jesus had to come and why we need Him. 

Lead them to the God who calls us His children to seek forgiveness and help for our selfish hearts. 

Encourage them to love and show grace to those who have hurt them as Jesus graciously died for us when we didn’t deserve it. 

Show them that thankfulness for Christ’s forgiveness of our sins is the opposite of worrying about fairness. 

 

TALKING TO OURSELVES

Have you ever been caught talking to yourself?  If that has been your problem, you now have an excuse for it, and the reason is even biblical!  Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a famous English preacher, made the following statement, which is one of the most practical quotes I have ever heard.

“Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself”.

We get discouraged and beaten down by listening to our inner voice telling us how bad things are and what a miserable failure we have been.  This voice starts early and continues late into the night.  Lloyd-Jones points out that we need to stop listening to ourselves and those discouraging monologues. Instead we need to start talking to ourselves.  What he means is that we need to preach to ourselves the truths of God that contradict our “woe is me” routines.

The topics we need to preach to ourselves are the themes of the gospel:

That God is totally sovereign; that in Christ we are saved completely and forever, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1);  God’s love and His commitment are proven by the cross; Christ has defeated all of our enemies “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31).  If we quiet our heart and put our minds to ponder the gospel, we can come up with many wonderful truths and promises to preach to ourselves!

Every Christian knows the Gospel is the most important message for those who need to be saved.  But do we know the Gospel is the also the most important message for those who are saved!  The Christian life is built upon the gospel and there is never a day in which we do not need to have gospel truths leading our thoughts and actions.The gospel is not something we get past, it is something we delve into ever deeper and live out more consistently. 

But we all need help in becoming more Gospel-centered, because Satan, the World and our flesh are all aggressively and persistently seeking to keep our perspective disconnected from the gospel.

There are a couple books that have recently stood out to me on the subject of the gospel.  Both books are crisply written, quick reads – that are worth reading slowly and repeatedly.

“What is the Gospel” by Greg Gilbert is a outstanding digging into the gospel.  It will give you greater clarity of the gospel.  After reading Gilbert’s book you will have a fuller understanding of the truths that you need to talk about to yourself.

“A Gospel Primer” by Milton Vincent” is a book meant to help us develop the practice of preaching the gospel to ourselves.  I find this book to be of exceptional practical value.

 

As we learn to speak the gospel into our life and against our temptations, anxieties and distractions, we will see our lives revolutionized.  And in this case, the word revolutionized is an understatement.  So feel free to start talking to yourself any time you want!

 


LIVING WITH GREAT PURPOSE

My friend Ian McConnell who pastors Grace Church in Philadelphia, has written another excellent article on his Blue Collar Gospel blog.

This article entitled “Life is Mission”, hits right at the center of what we have been trying to make our perspective at Greentree, which is to live life according to God’s agenda. Or as was the theme of this year’s Mission Conference, “Live Life Sent”.

How full and meaningful life becomes when our routine tasks and existing relationships become opportunities for the gospel to live in and through us. Our life may remain ordinary and yet become extraordinary all at the same time! As Ian writes:

“When you view yourself as sent, the mission field expands and the significance of your ordinary black & white moments start to pop-out in missional color.  Loving God, loving others, and the maturing & multiplying of disciples increasingly becomes your ultimate agenda as you do your regular thing. This both simplifies and intensifies our view of mission.”

Ian ends this article with practical ways to alter the way we look at our daily routine. This alone can encourage you to live a God pleasing and eternity affecting life.