Don't Mistake Fruit for the Law

I once read a stofy from a parenting book of brother and older sister playing Marco Polo in the pool and they end up fighting because the brother is cheating. The mother has a short talk with the brother about how cheating is not OK. He justifies it by saying, "But then I'll never win because I'm younger". The mother replies that cheating is wrong and leaves it at that. OK, fine. But then she turns to the eldest daughter, who kept the "rules" of the game and proceeded to chastise her for about 3 times as long as she did the younger brother for being angry with her brother for "breaking the rules".

I agree that anger should be addressed, but the sole chastisement was on the fact that she wanted to be a "rule keeper" in the game.

The story conveys that the "rule keepers" are the ones in need of the most chastisement. It never addresses why the older sister is apt to be a rule keeper but that clearly "there is something more important then the rules".

If the rules weren't so important, why did Jesus have to die because we failed to keep them?

I'm not saying we're saved by the law, we are not. But the Bible is clear about working out our salvation with "fear and trembling". Repentance is key to salvation. Without repentance, we cannot know we've broken the rules and need Him. But the law wasn't abolished; it was fulfilled by what we could not. We are still called to obey--not to be saved,  but becausewe are saved. If we went on ignoring what Christ died for, we have no sacrifice left for our sins because we've trampled the blood of Christ.

Does that mean we should never mess up? No. It does mean we are called to repent when we do and move forward in Christ. Not live a lassiez fare life or even careless life, forgetting what Christ died for. His Spirit is what works in us to walk out our faith and grow fruit. The law comes down to two things: love God and love your neighbor. These are encouraged throughout the whole of Scripture as being evidence of a child of God.

But don't minimize sin. It's what Christ died to save us from. We should want to flee from it. On the other hand, if we are following a set of rules out of legalism, (the belief that our works will save us), we are on dangerous road. But if we are acting out of the love Christ has for us, and simply can't help but obey or want to obey, there should be no chastisement over that.

So where does grace come in?

Grace catches us when we fall. And we willfall. But it's not there for our advantage. Extending grace to our children is vital, but repentance is just as vital. If a child doesn't understand the weight of sin, he/she will not understand the beauty of grace, or the need for it.

There is a little tweaking in this book that rubs me the wrong way in areas, which is why I find it important to discuss here. I continue to press on because I'm waiting for the ultimate "point" of the book to be made. It seems the author is trying to build a foundation of what grace is and what it looks like. In light of that, however, it makes it appear that obedience is not [as] important. The book glorifies grace covering sin over the desire to be obedient. In some parts, it suggests that anyone who wants to "follow the rules" have it all wrong and are walking in law, not grace.

I find that to be too much of a blanket, because that is not always the case. People who may appear to be "rule followers" might actually be walking in the Spirit, and going where He leads. To tell them that they are being "too righteous" (even though I would never label myself or anyone else that) is to say what?

Not everyone who desires to be obedient is a Pharisee. Some are David's. This is an important heart issue we each must get to the root of, personally.

Legalism

A good gauge for knowing if you're in legalism, is if you expect everyone to follow every "rule" you do -- and if they don't, do you judge whether they are going to heaven or hell based on these rules? We must be careful not to add man made laws or rules to what God has called us to. The point is, we can't do it without Christ. And without Him working in us, any works we do are dead anyways.

Conclusion

What I think the author is trying to get the reader to understand, is that our children need to understand that their good behavior or "good works" (or our "good parenting") isn't what brings them into right relationship with Jesus. That's the bottom line. Unfortunately, it seems as if she has to take you through a long trail of things "not to do" in order to get you to that point. And without knowing the "point" ahead of time, it can really make it look like the rules don't matter at all.

The book, Give Them Grace, is written from the perspective of parents who believe that good parenting produces good kids, and therefore are assured salvation, when in fact it doesn't work that way. Our children's salvation isn't based on anything we do. But I do believe our children can be lead astray by what we failto do to guide them. That doesn't mean God can't redeem--but we do need to heed His voice and walk in obedience, too.

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