By Sarah Evans
Why did God give His children the commandments to follow?
If we take a look at the well-known Ten Commandments in the book of Exodus (chapter 20), it is evident that it is not possible to keep all of them 100% of the time. How do we know this? Well the Bible also tells us that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), and that ‘whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it’ (James 2:10) And so being human renders us imperfect and therefore inadequate in keeping God’s perfect law fully. And yet this comes as no surprise to God.
God gave us these commandments primarily to show us a standard to aim for, and to help us know when we have crossed the line (committed a sin). They are to serve as a reminder of the fact that we cannot make it on our own, and we cannot do anything to deserve a relationship with God: hence we need a savior: we need to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
Another reason God places these limits on us is so that we can do our best (with His help and grace) to abide by them, and in doing so can live a blessed and peaceful life irrespective of our circumstances. God tells us ‘NO’ to hate and murder, God tells us ‘NO’ to lying and stealing, etc…and this is for our good!
‘Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments’ – Psalm 112:1
And so as parents, we also need to set limits for our children so that they can learn how to serve a God who sets limits!
If we fail to set adequate limits for our children, they will not learn how to submit under the parental authority that we have been given. If we always say yes and give in easily to their constant demands, our children will get the impression that God has the same ‘lax’ nature as us, which is untrue. As a result, our children will also have a difficult time learning how to submit under the authority and leadership of their Heavenly Father and so will resist the work and discipline of the Holy Spirit in their own Christian walk. This will impede them from growing and maturing into all that God has created for them to be!
As God-fearing and godly parents, we need to set our children up for success and help them to foster a healthy and scriptural relationship with God who, as we learned last week,‘disciplines His children, whom He loves’.
Discipline is necessary in every household, and yet it is not always easy to put in place. And even when it is put into place, it is not always easy to apply it consistently. However, we know that if we ask God for His help, guidance, and strength He is faithful and will supply us with everything that we need to fulfill his perfect will for our lives, and for the lives of our family.
Even though I will elaborate more on discipline next time, here are a few pointers to begin thinking about:
– Establish House Rules (decide on three or four)
E.g. no television/video games until homework is complete, no hitting, name-calling, or hurtful teasing allowed, or no talking when the parent is talking, etc…
– Create a System (that is clear and easy to remember)
E.g. First tell your child what he/she is doing wrong (which rule they are breaking) and what you would like them to do differently, AND then give them one warning (a chance for them to change the behavior). And then if they repeat the same behavior again enforce a consequence: e.g. ‘time out’ or a ‘loss of privileges’.
– Set-Up The System
Explain and discuss the household rules AND consequences WITH YOUR CHILDREN, before putting the discipline system in place.
– Be Consistent in Applying Discipline
Make sure you follow through with the discipline system that has been set up. You cannot discipline your child for talking back one day and ignore it the next, as this will create confusion and frustration for your children.
– Expect the Limits to Be ‘Tested’
Remember that the ‘testing’ stage is a normal part of putting discipline in place: your children want to know if you are serious, and if they can really trust you to be firm and consistent (on a subconscious level).When this ‘testing’ happens, ensure that you do not give in. Once you win this battle, you are well on your way to winning the war. In time things will calm down significantly, and your children’s respect and esteem for your parental leadership and authority will increase.
Remember, you cannot be a perfect parent! But the more you attempt to put discipline into place within the family home, the smoother things will run.