I was visiting with a friend who shared a nugget of wisdom I don’t want to forget. We were discussing teaching our kids about God, and how, instead of focusing on obedience (rules, what pleases God, how we show him love), we should first focus on the character of God and his outpouring of love toward us.
He loves us, he cares for us. and he initiates a relationship with us. And it is from this understanding of God’s kindness toward us that we want to obey him with our decisions. When those two get reversed, it becomes legalism. I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of teaching scripture to my children that points to what they can do for Him–serve, love, share, tell the truth, which are all great acts, but can’t be forced upon a growing heart for God (well they can, but the act will be not be a true expression of love back to God). Sincere acts of obedience come from a heart that truly wants to give back to God because the heart understands how loved it is.
The nugget in this for me is how I will shift the order in teaching my children about God from obedience and character to character and obedience. This way of thinking also applies to myself and my obedience to God, and to everyone I share God with.
Here is an excerpt from a lesson I found today that expresses God’s character towards us. It is from a Focus On The Family email publication of “Thriving Family” (link below)
By Kurt Bruner
God is love: It is true that God does loving things. But the more important truth is that God is love (1 John 4:8). God can’t help loving because it is an essential part of His character.
God cares: We can cast our anxiety on God because He cares (1 Peter 5:7). Like a spouse’s hug when we’re stressed or a parent’s hug when we’re worried, God’s love comforts and reassures us because we know that He cares about each troubling detail of our lives. God gives himself: Jesus said that the greatest love is when someone lays down his life for another (John 15:13). That is precisely what God did when He became man to rescue us from death.
God initiates: Our Father God takes the initiative in loving us rather than waiting for us to show love to Him. The Bible describes this love: “Not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10), and “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
What wonderful things for our hearts to grasp, and for us to pass on to others. (Especially around Valentine’s Day)
Go to www.thrivingfamily.com for great resources on marriage, parenting, finances, and much more.