John 1:17 (ESV)
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
As a new parent I made many mistakes. Our poor, guinea pig of an eldest child felt the worst of it. Thinking a parent must have dutiful, obedient children to juxtapose the disobedient children that are so common, I raised them to think for every infraction, there was only wrath and punishment. I can only hope that years of this behavior hasn’t created someone who thinks the only way one thrives in life is by meeting and exceeding certain standards.
While some of these facts are true, my approach was NOT guided by the whole counsel of Scripture. Important elements of God’s character and revelation were missing.
The difference now is while raising 8 kids, God has had to crucify much of what I thought I was doing to enforce His law, but in failing to account for all of the revelation of Scripture, He has shown me much of my approach enforces not His will, but only my own.
Here's what I mean:
If I raise my kids using only Law, they can at best excel, but for them to truly THRIVE, they must know grace.
While Law is necessary to appreciate Grace, and they have to work together, even in parenting, we become poor shepherds of our little sheep if we don't clothe our Law training in Grace.
Consider John 1:17. I’ve heard many people say this verse teaches and confirms that Moses and the OT is all about Law, and the NT is all about Grace. That’s not what it’s saying. There is certainly Law in the NT and Grace in the OT. The passage is saying that the prevailing message was that, but we must see that they build on each other as a part of God’s progressive revelation.
Therefore, while we must teach our children right from wrong, obedience, proper behavior, exposing and shaping their behavior and denying them the same grace God gives to us is at best, falling very short, and at worst, cruel.
I try to think what it would be like for God to reveal His Law and not have the salvation first revealed by faith to Abraham. Such would be cruel. No, instead the Law came second to reinforce the need for faith, and thereby, Grace.
I don’t know if I’ve effectively communicated it, but know that if I could summarize my ramblings, I would repeat, yes, teach your kids Law, but also expose them to the Grace that God showers on us.
If we display that character, our children will do much more than excel in life… they will truly thrive. And with some help from the Holy Spirit, they will see a reflection of their Heavenly Father in us.