Grow in Grace

“I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy
law is within my heart.”
Psalm 40:88I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)
I was surprised once by a young mother asking me how to raise children who would grow up to follow the Lord. I didn’t feel qualified to give a formula for mothering. In fact, it was a relief to me to realize, some years back, that there is no magic formula  ...  that because of our differences in personalities, background and growth, one family’s child-rearing would vary from another family’s.
I felt compelled to give a gentle warning to the young mother, sensing a legal leaning in her mothering. By legality, I don’t mean guiding children with consistent, Biblically-based principles; I’m speaking of made-up and unbending “thou shalt nots.” (Notice, for example, that although modesty is a clear scriptural principle, definite articles of clothing aren’t delineated. Many decisions are left for us to make along this path of faith. If there were cut-and-dried rules to follow, it would be called a path of sight, not a path of faith.) The law failed for the children of Israel, not because it wasn’t good, but because the flesh was weak. And the flesh hasn’t changed.
I gave this advice to this young mother: “Be careful of setting rigid rules in your home; you’ll probably end up having to change them as time goes on.” Why? Because God’s Word changes? No, but because we parents hopefully are growing in grace, and our children are growing in their own responsibility to the Lord. “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats” (Heb. 13:99Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. (Hebrews 13:9)).
It is important that children learn at a young age to obey. But a parent who sets harsh rules may get children who cower and “obey,” with no heart to please the parent or the Lord. Is this what we really want? We desire our children to come to the place in their lives where they “delight” to do His will. Then the glory will all be His!