Partners in Grace
By Casey Cleveland
Are you trusting Jesus to be the hero of your kids and parenting? Or
does it depend on you? What do you want for and from your children;
I mean what is your deepest desire for them? And do you think it
matches God’s deepest desire?
While you ponder those crazy deep questions, I have a few things God
has put on my heart for any of us who invest in a younger generation.
Much of what God has used to stir these thoughts comes from a book
by Elyse Fitzpatrick called “Give Them Grace.” I highly recommend this
I see a problem. A big problem, especially with many families within the
Church as a whole. I see this problem clearly, because I have it as well.
Here is the problem…we want our children to behave. Really…and that
is a problem? What is wrong with well-behaved children who use their
manners, look presentable, and only speak when spoken to?
The heart. A child who grows up under the greatest goal of behavior,
will oftentimes have a heart that is far from God. They will miss out
completely on the God of grace, and only know a God of law. And this is
because that is all we give them. Behavior modification. Fear, guilt, and
manipulation become are greatest weapons in the battle to make our
kids behave the way we want. Meanwhile we miss the heart completely,
or at best hit the edges of it as a secondary target.
I know this first hand. I am a pastor, which means I have pastor’s kids.
Not really sure what comes to mind when I use that term, (pastor’s
kids) but it usually has some negative connotation. So because I care
far too much about what people think, of course I will be the one to do
it different. So when my kids fail, which they do professionally just like
their daddy, I must do whatever is necessary to modify behavior. If not,
this could look really bad for me, and I cannot have that, no not on my
watch. God forgive me.
We would never say this, (even though I just did) but our parenting
the last six weeks may very likely reflect this law based “do this, don’t
do that” style. It’s almost like we are saying to our kids…just do what I
say and life will be easier for you and me, and really that is the goal…an
easier life for you and me. That is giving them law. That is not what
Jesus gave us. There is a better way.
Give them grace.
You know grace, the very thing you and I need as relentless sinners in
need of a relentless savior. Grace…unmerited, unearned, undeserved
favor based on the love of the giver, not the performance of the
recipient. Grace…the only thing that has the power to pursue our
heart, capture our heart, and transform our heart. The gospel of grace
tells us there is a loving God who placed my sin on his perfect Son, and
punished him in my place, so that he could forgive me. A holy God
pursuing an unholy people…giving them grace…to change their hearts
and offer them freedom and life. A relationship. Not more rules that
we can’t follow, but a relationship based on grace, through faith, in his
Maybe this is what we should give our kids. Maybe the gospel is more
than just a way to begin a relationship with God; maybe it is the very
foundation upon which we should parent. Maybe grace is the only
hope…for sinners, for parents, for our kids!
Grace is not a pass. Grace is given from love so that means it disciplines,
it trains, it corrects, it promises. Well what does all that look like?
Check back next month and we will explore that very question. For
this month let’s just start with a desire to win their hearts and let the
behavior follow. Just when they don’t deserve it…give them grace…that
is when they will need it the most. And then tell them why. Tell them
about the grace we have in Jesus.
Give them grace. I dare you.
To contact me please email email@example.com or better yet, come
see us on Sunday at The Delray Beach Community Center-10 am.