Today's devotional is adapted from my brand-new book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family.
Notice the title of the book. This is a gospel principle. Just because I'm applying it to parenting doesn't mean it only has relevance for parents. This principle - mercy - has implications for every situation, location, and relationship in the Christian life.
So let's begin!
One of the biggest errors Christian parents make is to forget. Not forgetting the baby's diaper bag. Not forgetting to pack the school lunch. Not forgetting to pick the teenager up after practice.
No, there's something much bigger that we forget.
When we, as earthly mothers and fathers, forget the daily mercies we've received from the Heavenly Father's hands, mercies we could have never earned, deserved, or achieved, it becomes much easier for us not to parent our children with mercy.
What is mercy? Mercy is tenderheartedness and compassion toward someone in need.
Our children are just that — needy. They need guidance and protection, they need help and rescue, they need wisdom and instruction, they need confrontation and discipline, they need patience and grace, they need love and compassion, they need support and provision, and they need to see God and themselves with accuracy.
There's never been a day when your children haven't needed mercy. We've been called to parent precisely because of their sin, weakness, and failures. Every moment of the foolishness and failure of our children should remind us why the Heavenly Father provided children with parents. Because of this, your primary calling as a parent is not first to represent God’s judgment, but rather to constantly deliver his mercy.
You see, parenting is all about being God's ambassadors in the lives of our children. It's about faithfully representing his message, his methods, and his character. It's about working to make the invisible mercy of God visible as we respond with mercy toward our kids.
That's an incredibly high and holy calling, but it will also prove to be perhaps your most difficult calling. I don't know about you, but mercy simply isn't natural for me. It's natural for me to be harsh. It's natural for me to be demanding and impatient. It's natural for me to be a bit irritated that I have to repeat myself.
That's why I need to remember, and I suspect you do too. We need to remember all the mercies that our Heavenly Father has showered on us so we in turn can shower our children with mercy.
No parent gives mercy better than the one who is reminded how much they desperately need mercy themselves. So write these verses down. They are 8 of my favorite reminders about God's mercy: Psalm 23:6, 28:6, 40:11, 103:4, 145:9, Isaiah 30:18, Ephesians 2:4, and Hebrews 4:16.
Parents, allow yourself to reflect on how much you need God's mercy now, reflect on how much you needed the mercy of your parents as you grew up, and let sympathy grow in your heart. Mercy means that every action, reaction, and response toward your children is tempered and shaped by tenderness, understanding, compassion, and love.
Parenting is a life-long mission of humbly, joyfully, and willingly giving mercy.
To discover the other 13 gospel principles that can radically change your family, visit PaulTripp.com/Parenting.
- How did your child reveal their need for mercy this past week?
- If mercy isn't natural to you, what are some other natural reactions that have been revealed in your parenting?
- How has God shown you mercy this past week, and how should that impact the mercy you show your children? Be specific.