Seems like a good thing to teach your children, right? No one likes a whiny kid. Besides, sometimes when Shuah is complaining it can be wearisome. However, as I was instructing my son, I think my Father began to instruct His.
Motive questions began to enter my mind. You know the ones. “Why do you want him to stop whining?” “Are seeking to serve your son here?” “What exactly are you rebuking Shuah for?” “And what is your goal for him?”
The truth is that it will always be easier to see our place of authority as a means for benefits than for service. Do you find yourself in the struggle? I didn’t want my son whining because it annoyed me. I didn’t want Shuah whining because it looked bad for me. I didn’t want him whining because ___________ (insert selfish reason here).
But is that why God made me a parent? So that I could have a person I could control, manipulate, and boss around for my benefit? I guess when it is put like that, of course not. But it sure can be so easy to see our role as parents in this twisted way.
God put me as an authority over my son to serve and honor God first, and then my son. Yes, I shouldn’t want my son to whine. But the reason for this is because it is a sign of ungratefulness to God. Not because it bothers me. I shouldn’t allow my son to whine because it is a fruit of rebellion against God and the authority He has placed over him. Whining scorns God’s goodness and kindness to us. Whining is a form of covetousness.
You see, the scary thing is, I can often be instructing my son with God’s Word in mind while doing so without Biblical motives. It is a distinction worth making. It will lead to a host of sins such as: setting a bad example for my son, frustrating my son, creating a spirit of hypocrisy in the home, averting my son’s eyes from God to me, etc. In this warped view, God begins to represent me and serve my agenda of helping me get my child to serve me. Rather than me being a representative of God and an extension of His rule.
So what does the Gospel have to do with any of this? Jesus defines for us what authority and leadership should look like. He didn’t leave us when we failed Him. Nor did He simply damn us. Instead, he lead by example to follow and provided a way to Salvation by serving to the point of death.
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” -John 13:1-5
In this narrative Jesus gives us a real life parable. It is a parable of Jesus in glory, humility, and exaltation. The Son of God was not always a man. Before He became a man He was arrayed in all the glory of God. Millions of fiery brilliant angels laid prostrate before Him in fear, awe, and worship! They served Him night and day. He dwelt in heaven where all obeyed Him perfectly. There was no sin or death; all was as it should be. But the Son of God laid aside all His glory (Phil. 2:6), became a servant, and entered this sin-filled world.
Jesus didn’t cease to be God. His authority had not changed. But His appearance did. He took the form of a servant. Jesus purchased and saved, lead and discipled, and changed His sheep by serving in humility. He sought the glory of God rather than the petty praise of man (John5:41-44). And in doing so His people were marked by incredible change.
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.‘” -John 13:12-17
After Jesus’ humiliation came His glorious exaltation. Jesus provides for us an example as we seek to be God honoring parents. We start seeing our God-given authority as a responsibility to serve and no loner as one of being served. Ironically, this frees us to actually lead better!
I want my son to obey because I want Him to obey God and because God hates sin. My ambitions ceases to be one of concern for how my son affects my image before man and one for concern for how I am honoring God’s. My goal is to train my child to love Jesus and want to obey Him from the heart. And the only way I can do that is, with each correction, point him to the law of God and how there is only hope found in God’s Son Jesus Christ.
So rather than simply saying, “Shuah, no whining,” I say something like, “Shuah, God hates our complaining. When we complain we deserve God’s anger. But you know what? He has given us His Son Jesus to die for sinners like you and me. If you trust in Jesus, God will forgive you, and give you a heart to love Him and is thankful!”
Rather than directing my Son’s gaze to action and what I don’t like. I have directed his gaze to God and what He doesn’t like. And then provided hope in Jesus. That’s the goal! And that’s what the Gospel has to do with parenting.