If given the choice, my boys will always choose to have a brownie over brussels sprouts. They will always wipe their mouths with a sleeve rather than reach for a napkin. They will always leave for tomorrow all that they’d rather not do today.
They will always choose in this way because that’s how their mom would be too, if not for a change of appetite.
That’s right. I am, by nature, not a lover of discipline, of self-control…of doing the hard thing. I am simply not wired that way on account of sin. I, like many of you, love what is easy, what is immediately satisfying, what is comfortable, what is the most convenient. Unless my appetite is trained, I would only have a taste for what comes naturally.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
I’m hard-wired with an appetite for self-gratification and self-indulgence… and so are my kids. As a mom, I tend to want to break them of these vices and sinful tendencies by simply enforcing discipline and prescribing a healthy dose of self-control. I may employ the help of charts, rules, stickers, and sometimes my own bellowing voice, but the humbling truth is that doing the right thing isn’t the same thing as having the right heart.
For all our good intentions in helping our children make the right choices, sometimes we fail to see that there is no hope for genuine change or love of choosing what is good…apart from Christ at work in our children’s hearts and ours. We must cultivate a new appetite:
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! -Psalm 34:8
You may remember what it was to savor the goodness of God’s mercy. Of his faithful pursuit of your heart. Of salvation that seemed like a deluge to a thirsty soul. Friends, there is no greater motivator for setting aside self than to savor the sweetness of Christ. Life in Christ is better. He is sweeter. The cross of Christ is better than the cause for our own comfort…
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. -Psalm 63:3
And so, as we seek to impart what is good, worthy, and wise to our children, let’s make the goodness of God our starting point. To continually set the sweetness and goodness of the Lord before our kids will whet their appetites for what is better. Spread before them the banquet of God’s Word, the splendor of his promises, the extravagance of his grace. Only then, will they find the example, the reason, and the hope for making right choices… good choices… choices that will enlarge our children’s hearts to know the wonder of hard things often being the better things in life.
Because of Grace,