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My Three Sons (Dealing with Depravity)

There’s another challenge I have in raising my boys, and that stems from the fact that they are my sons – they got daddy’s sin nature. Dealing with depravity is not an easy task. I see me in them, and it can be infuriating, discouraging, deflating, and more. And to make matters more convoluted, they each seem to have mastered a different facet of my sin nature. So while one takes pleasure in agitating his little brother to the point of inciting him to cry out in desperation, or likes to flaunt that he has something the other doesn’t; my second born has mastered manipulating others through emotions. He can appear innocent when he was the one throwing punches while the adult’s back was turned. Then there’s the baby – yes! Even him!! He can pitch a fit to get his way. Whether he legitimately needs something or just plain wants it, he cares nothing for anyone save himself.

Understanding the total depravity of man has helped me grasp the goal of disciplining children. (Now, granted, I don’t always operate under what I’m about to say because I myself still have a sin nature; but by God’s grace I strive to implement what I’m about to share.) The better I understand what Scripture teaches about man’s depravity, the more I was able to discipline with grace. Before I understood these things, I would get so angry at my children for doing the bad things they did. Not realizing that part of what made me so irate was that I saw myself in their sin, I was angry as I knew they knew better than to do it. I also knew there were others, people who thought I couldn’t do a good job and we looking for that “I told you so” moment, who were watching me, and my children’s sin was embarrassing me. Then God showed me my own depravity, and His grace became all the more magnificent! Not too long after, my theology began to affect my practice in child training. Their sin was not made to be a trifle, instead it was made all the more grave; yet the outrage at their wickedness was not the same. Their transgression was not against me, but God, so I need not take it personal. And they are doing what is natural to them; so instead of disciplining them out of shock that they would do such things, I knew their heart condition and could deal with it more appropriately. I know that when my children sin they are acting according to their heart’s desire. My goal of discipline is no longer behavior modification, for that is simply hanging pretty fruit on a dead tree. My goal is heart orientation. Their heart is the problem. So the times they exhibit their depravity need not embarrass me as I know they are bound in sin. Instead, it saddens me due to their bondage in sin.

Dealing with depravity should cause us to deal with compassion. I realize this issue is much deeper, I am not attempting to expound on the subject. I simply wish to emphasize one aspect of learning biblical truth – that dealing with depravity has forced me to deal with the heart, and to do so in a more loving way. Not that I mitigate the judgment given as a result of their offense; rather that judgment is dealt to them in grace  – as a parent should discipline his/her child.

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3 responses

  1. 4calledbyhisgrace

    This is an encouraging post as it the previous one. This one post reminds me of the book, “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Ted Tripp. You’re emphasizing the same thing he does in his book & that it’s a matter of the heart. You can modify the behavior but if that’s all you’ve done w/out dealing with the heart, you’ve in a sense made a legalist. The post is clear and concise and like you said can be expounded upon so much more.. It reminds me of my own son, my own depravity and my own need to go through the book w/ my own wife to help enable us. Thanks for sharing!!!!

    May 21, 2010 at 8:52 am

  2. Marie Ehlers

    Praise God for opening your eyes and heart to truth. Isn’t He amazing? His gift to you will be experienced by descendants you’ll never know. Thanks for your candor, as always. It’s not easy for a parent to admit his failings.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:51 am

  3. 2Corinthians4_6

    Thank you, brother, for sharing wisdom from heaven. I will meditate on these insights in the labor of loving my children in similar fashion.

    May 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

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