What was the message of Christ as he began his earthly ministry?
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
One thing is clear from the get go: true heart repentance is the key that opens the door of God's forgiveness in Christ.
Many other experiences and emotions - great relief, profound joy, love for God, gratitude, explosive praise - come into play in our salvation, but all of it begins with Christ's call to repent. None of these wonderful emotions are possible without first knowing true contriteness for sin. (Psalm 51:17)
As parents who seek to teach the gospel to our kids, we need to recognize the great (great!) opportunity God has exclusively given to us, to show them what repentance looks like, feels like, smells like.
Our kids have keen eyes to discern whether or not we are walking the talk. Hypocrisy is a deterrent, a horrible stench to the wandering heart for truth. Humility is a fragrance that invites the lost to investigate the quiet power at work in repentance.
Some practical considerations below:
Repent right away: As soon as you've become aware of your sin in a situation, call yourself out.
Repent in order: Acknowledge your sin before God first, and let your kids know that you're doing so.
Repent to all people involved: If you've sinned against your kids, go to them. If your kids watched you sin against someone else, acknowledge the one you wronged, and also your children.
Repent specifically: Articulate not just what your sinful words or actions were, but what the sinful heart posture was beneath them. Name the sin specifically. Acknowledge why it displeases God, how it demonstrates our falling short of God's glory.
Draw out the beauty of the gospel together with your family. Starting from repentance, rehearse together how it is that God is pleased to forgive because of Christ's blood shed for us. Revel in the gospel together, as often as you depend on it to be forgiven!
So here, I encourage you, to consider every parenting blunder as the gift and opportunity it is to demonstrate repentance for the little eyes that watch, the little ears that listen, the little hearts that, by God's grace, will become increasingly ready to believe on Christ.
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