Saturday, depending on the week hovers between a cleaning day, and a day to go to parties. This week, it was cleaning day! We had a few wonderful experiences, in which the children were very helpful, like this one that I put on my facebook this morning:
While cleaning the kitchen and putting the groceries away, I gave Emma a box of cans, and asked her to put them in the pantry one by one. Emma tried to pick the WHOLE box up, (rather than one at a time… typical Emma. ♥) and dropped them. Sarah swept into action: “Here! I’ll help you! Lets all line up and put them away, it’ll be faster that way!” She and Emma took an end of the box each, carried them over closer to the pantry, then Sarah lined everyone up, Emma, Ava, and herself, and started a canned foods brigade! Haha! *Totally* the oldest child! I was SO proud of her leadership, kindness, and organization!
It was a heartening moment where all the training came to fruition, and the children worked together as a team! I was in heaven! However, these aren’t the *only* moments in this house! Later this afternoon we had another one in which I realized I was in a position to teach Emma some very important doctrinal ideas.
Emma was asked to empty the silverware container from the dishwasher. This, among tidying up her room, making her bed, wiping the table after dinner, and cleaning up her toys after play, is one of her own chores. This is a non negotiable task. It has to be done at least once a day, or no one will have any dishes to eat off of! Emma said “Ok, ok, I will do it!” then continued to play. I gave her a minute to comply, and when she didn’t, I then reminded her of the task, giving her one chance to correct her behavior on her own. “I’m going! I’m going Mom!”and yet, she sat. Playing. Uh oh. We’ve definitely entered disobedient territory!
I took her into my lap, and told her she was being naughty. I took her toys away, and told her she was being disciplined. She had lost her privilege of play. She cried bitterly, upset at being interrupted tangibly.
“Are you ready to say sorry, Emma, and do your job?” I asked.
“But I’m just NOT ready to say sorry!” She said, and folded her arms across her chest.
“Then you may sit here, without your toys until you are ready to do what needs to be done.”
She began to cry “But I want you to forgive me and hug me!”
I told her I gladly would, all she had to do was realize what she had done, and apologize. Not knowing how to put it in her terms, I said: “I love you, but you can’t be forgiven until you say sorry!”
Then I thought, ‘Can I say that, is that true?’ How do I explain to a child that although in my heart, I have forgiven her, and all she has to do is realize there is a sin to be forgiven, acknowledge that, and accept my forgiveness?
Isn’t it just like that with God? He has forgiven us, offered a sacrifice in our place, but it does nothing to us, or for us, until we see our own sin, its effects in our life, and surrender that sin nature to him? Here I was, at an impasse with my 4 year old daughter, just like the one I had been in with God a few years ago, but here I sat on the other side.
I believed for the longest time that because of grace, God loved me no matter what I did. I often excused my bad behavior this way. My terrible marriage, my halfhearted mothering, and my selfish ambition in my own career. I took refuge in a feel good church culture where sin has no weight, and God’s Grace makes it ok. I don’t know how to explain, but I justified my behavior with a selfish idea of God serving me, a cosmic vending machine to whom I prayed only when it got financially dicey. I was not made for God, God was made for me. I forgot what Paul said about God’s Grace in Romans 5 and 6:
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
(Romans 6:1-4 ESV)
We must walk in newness of life. That what our old self was, a slave to sin, must no longer be a slave to sin!
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 6:20-23 ESV)
To be sanctified, to be new, to be God’s, is to die to our own wants, our own ideas, our own sin. This is a heavy 2 chapters. It is, in a nutshell, what our family has been learning, living, for about 2-3 years now. We forget SO many times in today’s lukewarm churches that grace is received *after* repentance! We are nailed to the wall by this idea that “God gave the chance of salvation to EVERYONE!” And so he did, but there is the matter of the Holy Spirit producing that conviction in each heart. Salvation doesn’t just happen to the whole world instantaneously because Christ died and rose again. Salvation happens when we die and resurrect with him! When we say no to self and yes to God. But first we must die to sin. We must put God’s Glory first, and take his Word seriously when it comes to sin. As Paul says in this passage:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
(Romans 6:12-18 ESV)
We have forgotten in this current culture to reject sin, in our own lives, in our own families, in our own homes. We have forgotten that sin has no dominion over us. This doesn’t mean we should be out there holding everyone else accountable, 24/7, but that we should be living such a life that it is clear who owns us. Our life, our choices, they affect others. This goes from parenting, to politics, to how we eat, what we say, what we watch, how we dress. In being sanctified, all of God’s Word is useful in ALL areas of life. ALL of God’s Word.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
This was written in a time when ALL scripture included the books of law. The gospels hadn’t been added to the canon of scripture yet, nor had Paul’s letters. We forget as a church, and as individuals what a light we carry as God’s children, and as ‘slaves to righteousness.’ We are placed here, in grace, to glorify him, not gratify ourselves! And he has equipped us for such a task with his Word, and the Holy Spirit.
Now I did end up sorting things out with Emma, and oddly enough, that included a good nap! Haha! A little grace and mercy extended to Emma on my part, but there is where grace and mercy come in. They are not expected, demanded, or taken. They are gifts. God gives them to us. We claim them, yes, but they are still his gifts, and nothing to do with our own actions. Remember as you live out a life under God’s grace, that your presence in this poisoned sinful culture is a tangible reminder to others of God’s grace, and the truth of his Word.