By Mindy Jones, Crosswalk.com
As Christians, we all know that God wants us to forgive others freely, just as we have been forgiven. But how do we apply that to our parenting? Where is the line of overlooking our children's offenses while still guiding them and shaping them into godly people? We can take inspiration from Proverbs 19:11 and see what overlooking an offense actually looks like in parenting!
What does the Bible say about offense?
"A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense." Proverbs 19:11 NIV
It is to one's glory to overlook an offense - what does that mean? That we never can be offended and let people treat us horribly? Not exactly. Although, Jesus did have his fair share of people treating Him as He should NOT have been treated. But he still responded with grace and truth. The Bible is pretty clear about how to handle offense, specifically in these verses here:
Those are just a few references to offense, and we can definitely see that here in Proverbs 19:11 as well. The Proverbs are fantastic to read through daily in your own quiet time with the Lord, as well as with your children and family. There are 31 of them for a reason, right? One for each day to help us keep a godly mindset. They are written in a straightforward format and can be taken very practically - this helps us understand how God wants us to act. It's also why it's so great for our children, too, because they think in literal, actionable ways.
Now that we see a little more of what the Bible says about it, what exactly does overlooking an offense look like in parenting? Let's take a look.
What does this look like in parenting?
We touched on this earlier. But I think the key to responding to our children's offenses has everything to do with GRACE and TRUTH. You can't have one without the other. We are called to offer grace to our children, just as God does for us. Think about it; we are God's children. How does He respond to us? He gives His grace freely.
But there still has to be accountability, right? It isn't ALL grace, to where we can live and choose to do exactly as we want. No, there has to be a complete 180 change from sin and learning from mistakes.
Think of the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8). He shows her grace - she had been literally caught in the act of adultery. Jesus asked the others who were there to cast the first stone if they were without sin. Of course, no one could, and Jesus told her He wasn't there to condemn her either. But He also told her to "go and sin no more." That is equally as important! It's the perfect balance of showing grace or overlooking our children's offenses but making sure we are replacing that with God's truth and how He calls us to live out our daily lives as Christians.
So how do we do this? Here are four tips to help you in overlooking your child's offenses:
4 Tips For Overlooking Your Child's Offenses
1. Remove Your Own Plank Before Their Speck
"Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:3-5 NIV
God is pretty clear in His Word about us calling out other people's sin. You can see that right here in Matthew when Jesus is telling the crowds that they should look at their sin first. This is the same principle we need to apply when it comes to our children. Have we, as parents, made sure we are taking care of the plank in our own eye, rather than focusing on the speck in our kids? Again, we want to teach our kids to be accountable for their sins and make sure we are doing the same for ourselves. We don't want to be "hypocrites," constantly focusing on our children's sin more than our own.
It may be good to take a look at how your child is acting and responding and make sure there isn't any sinful nature in your life that could be causing it. What do I mean by that? The verse that comes to mind is Ephesians 6:4, which reads, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them."
I know there have been times when my responses to my daughter were not the most grace-filled and were actually provoking her to respond sinfully. I had to apologize and ask for forgiveness from the Lord and my child. That's why it's so important to make sure you are "taking care of the plank" first!
2. Pick Your Battles
Do you ever go through the day, and it seems all you did was get onto your kids? I know the feeling well! It really is a joy-sucker to feel like you are constantly getting on your kids, correcting, nagging, etc. Sometimes, I have to take a deep breath, step back, and pray.
Lord, is this a battle worth fighting? This is such a simple yet POWERFUL question to ask yourself when you feel triggered by something your children have said or done. Not everything has to be a battle. Sometimes, we have things that may personally bother us but are not sin in our children.
I'll give an example - say your child wants to bring their favorite toy in the car on your way to the store. You tell them no, the main reason being you don't want to fool with it in the car. Your child is upset and starts throwing a tantrum. While the tantrum isn't the correct response, would it really be the worst thing in the world for them to bring the toy in the car? Probably not. Choose your battles! This wouldn't be one.
Another example is that you have asked your child three separate times to clean their room, but it is still not done. This is a good lesson in responsibility and in obeying your parents. This would be a situation where you would talk with your child, gently teaching them the importance of doing things the first time and listening.
See the difference? One of these situations doesn't hurt you or your child in either way - not worth the battle. The other one is an issue of sin and needs to be molded and corrected. Ask yourself before each time if this is a battle or not!
3. Offer Grace Freely
There are so many situations in the Bible where Jesus offered grace instead of condemnation. The gift of salvation in itself is the ultimate gift of grace to us from God! So how much more should we extend that grace to our children?
Sin is sin, and our sin is no worse or no better than our children's sin. The only difference between our sin and theirs is that we have had time and growth in learning to respond rightly. Our kids haven't had that, and that's why it's so important to show them what God does for them by how we parent.
When they sin, we want to create a safe place for them to come and tell us and make sure they feel comfortable sharing their sin and failures with us. We start with grace, letting them know that they are forgiven by God and helping to teach them how to ask Him for that forgiveness.
Only then can we move on to the gentle correcting and bring it back to how God wants us to act and respond in those situations, whatever they may be.
4. Remind Them of God's Purpose for Them
Can you think of a time in your life when you felt unsure about everything? What your purpose was, what God wanted you to do, or maybe before you knew the Lord and seemed to wander this world aimlessly with no sense of direction? Did that affect you positively or negatively?
Sometimes, when we notice sin or disobedience in our children, we need to remind them of God's purpose for them. They need to be reminded that God has a plan for their life, and when they sin, it hinders them from fulfilling that purpose. Positively affirming your children with biblical truths and promises of God is the best way to remind them that God has a purpose and plan for their life.
I hope you feel more equipped to overlook your children's offenses the way God calls you too, while still shaping them into godly people!
Keep Proverbs 19:11 in the back of your mind each time you are dealing with sin in your children, and remember to parent with grace and truth, just as the Father does for us.
Related: Listen to Our FREE New Parenting Podcast! Christian Parent/Crazy World with Catherine Segars is now available on LifeAudio.com. You can listen to the first episode by clicking the play button below:
Mindy Jones is a Christ-follower, loving wife, and stay-at-home mom. She is a graduate of Campbellsville University with a Major in Business Administration and a love for writing. Her mission is to guide Christian moms in being more intentional in their faith, family, and homes with practical tips and authenticity! She hopes to inspire moms to be fervent in raising children who love the Lord, offering tons of activities and resources to do so on her website, Mindy Jones Blog.
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Are you in the trenches with your toddlers or teens? Read Rhonda's full article here!