I am so imperfect. So very imperfect. I make mistakes in just about every aspect of my life. Okay, so not “just about.” In every aspect.
Yet, I love to exhort others. I want to show them how they can grow in Christ. This includes my own children. They know I mess up on a daily basis. They know I yell, snap, and get agitated when I should show patience and self-control. They know I am not always diligent with my time. They know I can be a very poor steward of our home. They see all of this.
So, how to I pour into my children – and into others – when I obviously struggle myself?
I think the answer comes from Romans 12. Here are the first few verses.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12: 1-3 (emphasis mine)
Others may see that I mess up, but do they also see that I am continually presenting myself to God as a sacrifice? Sometimes that fire gets hot and I want to jump off the altar for a little while. That’s when I mess up. Every day. Some days more frequently than others, but it still happens daily. But if others can see that my heart desires to present all of me as a living and holy sacrifice, then they know I acknowledge the ways I mess up and they know I know the right way to go.
Am I changing? Am I growing? Am I more obedient, more submissive, and less rebellious than I was five years ago? One year ago? Six months ago? Can people see that? If I am growing, then I can feed that growth into others.
Do I think I’m all that? Or do I acknowledge that any good in me is from the Lord? If the latter is true, then I am not pointing people to my awesome grasp of how it should be done. I am pointing them to the Lord who works through me to accomplish His purposes.
Sound Judgment and Faith
When I think according to God’s Word and trust in His plan, I am not training others in my own agenda. I am pointing them to God’s.
I saved this one for last because, in all honesty, it is what everything else hinges around. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard parents say, “Well, I can’t tell my child no because he knows I did the same thing when I was his age. If I tell him no, then he’s going to think me a hypocrite.”
Oh how that train of thought makes my heart ache! God had granted us grace that overcomes anything in our past. Anything. Are we living that grace? Can we point to how God rescued us from our foolishness and brought us to a path of wisdom? Then we must share that with our children! Yes, we messed up. We sinned. We were wrong. Must they suffer through the same thing?
Or is there something deeper here? Could it be that we haven’t truly moved on from that sin? Perhaps we admitted that someone else thought it was wrong, but we haven’t confessed that we truly sinned. We have simply made excuses for our behavior. If that is the case, it is true: we cannot tell someone else they’re wrong because we’ve never admitted we were wrong.
Oh how God’s grace longs to cover us! Oh how He desires to work through us to draw others to Himself! We are all imperfect, but we are forgiven. We are covered. We are restored. Our shame has been removed. Now, let us pass that on to our children and to our fellow believers. Not because we’re so great but because “through the grace given to” us, we are able to point to a gracious, amazing Father who will work for His purposes.