How to keep terrific theology from becoming pathetic parenting.

I was talking with a mom recently who was concerned because her daughter had begun lying to her. “Any suggestions on how I should handle it?,” she asked.

I shared of couple of ideas and then suggested that a good consequence might be to have her daughter copy appropriate Scriptures. David said, “I have hidden your word (memorized it) in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

This mom had a solid Bible knowledge and asked if Revelation 21:8 would be a good one:

“… murderers, fornicators … and all liars, will have their place in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” 

Fortunately, she was joking. That’s good theology but not good parenting.

I suggested ones like 2 Timothy 1:7 (God has not given us a spirit of fear…) since lying usually springs from fear – fear of embarrassment, fear of getting in trouble, fear of disappointing someone we love.

And all or part (depending upon her age) of Psalm 24:3-6 – Explaining to her daughter that God will reward us when we tell the truth. Even if we get in trouble for it right now, God and we will be proud of them for being honest.

Who may stand before the Lord? Only those with pure hands and hearts, who do not practice dishonesty and lying. They will receive God’s own goodness as their blessing from him, planted in their lives by God himself, their Savior. These are the ones who are allowed to stand before the Lord and worship the God of Jacob.

I heard another fellow say that when his kids apologized for messing up he would say, “Sorry doesn’t fix the problem. Go make it right.”

Ouch. That’s good theology (Repentence isn’t just saying “I’m sorry”. It implies we stop doing what we say we’re sorry for and, when possible, make restitution) but I’m glad God doesn’t respond to me that way when I mess up.

How can good theology not be good parenting? Won’t the truth set you free?

God’s Word is sharp like a scalpel. (Hebrews 4:12). It can cut and heal or it can cut and kill – depending on how you handle it. Raw truth is not always helpful. That’s why Ephesians 4:15 says speak the truth “in love”. Love heals, love draws us, love restores. I can accept and receive a pretty harsh rebuke if I know it comes from someone who loves me and is only doing it because they want the best for me.

While the law is good, by itself it kills. (Romans 7:10) Children need law – rules and boundaries. But they, like all of us, need the law wrapped in love and grace if it is to be helpful and healing.

Truly good theology is like good parenting, wrapped in love – patience, kindness, not rude, not irritable, it keeps no record of wrongs. It never gives up, never loses faith and is always hopeful (1 Corinthians 13)

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