I am learning what it means to train my children's hearts for God's glory using the Bible. There are so many "popular" behavior modification methods and ideas out there, but so many just treat the symptoms and not the bigger issue...what is in a child's heart. It's taken me a while to wrap my mind around this idea, but I am starting to "get it." I hope to post some of our struggles and triumphs in this area as time goes on. I am passionate about reaching my children's hearts for the Lord and feel an urgency to know God's Word to train them in righteousness. The amazing thing is that as I am training them (and I really do mean, we, as in Mike and I, but I'll likely continue to post from my perspective), I am learning so much about my very own heart sins and struggles. God is doing a mighty work!!!
Here's the scenario: (All names have been altered to protect the privacy of those involved and will furthermore be known as Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C in no particular order...) The three Exhibits are playing with their Playmobil toys in the living room with all weapons, people, and gear divvied out. Exhibit A leaves to help make his toast in the kitchen. Minutes later, Exhibit B comes into the kitchen and whispers in Exhibit A's ear. With a shriek, Exhibit A storms into the living room and arguing, screeching, and all forms of distress ensue. Mama enters, says a quick "Help me, Lord" because I really just want to go on a tirade myself. Oh, that nasty, sinful flesh. But, suddenly, the Holy Spirit tickles a memory and God's Word comes to mind. Praise the Lord because this is so NOT about me, but about the mighty work He is doing in my heart and mind!!! Anyhow, back to the scene of the crime... It is obvious that Exhibit C took one of the aforementioned divvied up goods which Exhibit A thought was extremely unfair and cruel. Exhibit A and C quickly worked out a compromise while I pulled Exhibit B aside. It was fairly obvious what had occurred...
Mama: "Exhibit B, when you came out here and whispered in your brother's ear, were you stirring up trouble or promoting peace?"
Exhibit B: "Stirring up trouble."
Mama: "Can you tell me why you thought it was wise to stir up trouble?"
Exhibit B: "It wasn't wise, but Exhibit C took something that wasn't his and said that Exhibit A wouldn't notice."
Mama: "You know that when you chose to come out here and whisper in your brother's ear, you chose to sin by stirring up trouble. Did you know that God hates those who stir up trouble? Let's look in the Bible to find where that verse is. (Pull out my Bible, Wise Words for Moms flip chart, find the specific behavior and corresponding verses...) Right here: Proverbs 6:16-19, "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." Do you see that what you chose to do is not pleasing to God?"
Exhibit B: "Yes." (with tears in his eyes)
Mama: "If you knew that your brother was doing something wrong or unkind, what could you have done to help him make a better choice? To promote peace?"
Exhibit B: "I could have told him to put it back or told him to ask if he can have a turn."
Mama: "That's right and then you wouldn't have sinned and you could have helped your brother not to sin." God's Word says that there is joy for those who promote peace. See, right here...Proverbs 12:20. Let's pray and ask God to forgive you for stirring up trouble and to help you promote peace. Then we'll go talk with other boys.
Exhibit B prays, apologizes and I continue on with the heart training...
Mama: "Exhibit C, can you tell me why to took the toy from Exhibit A? Why you took it while he wasn't looking?"
Exhibit C: "I wanted that dagger because I didn't have one."
Mama: "What kind of heart is that?"
Exhibit C: "A selfish one."
Mama: "That's right, you wanted something and didn't think about how it would make your brother feel if you took it from him. Does it bring God honor when we are selfish and only look out for our own selves?"
Exhibit C: "No."
Mama: (Having just glanced at my Bible and Wise Words for Moms...) "God's word says that we should do nothing out of selfishness, but to think of others as better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3) That means that we treat others with respect and kindness. How could you have shown respect and kindness to Exhibit A?
Exhibit C: "I should have asked him for a turn and not just taken the dagger."
Mama: "No matter what answer Exhibit A gave you if you asked, what kind of attitude should you have?"
Exhibit C: "A happy heart" (2 Corinthians 9:7b)
Mama: "Right! God loves it when we honor others above ourselves! (Romans 12:10) What do you need to do now to make it right?"
Exhibit C: "Apologize to my brother and God and ask for a turn instead."
We pray together, find Exhibit A, apologize and make it right...
Mama: "Exhibit A, when you realized that Exhibit C took your dagger, how should you have responded?"
Exhibit A: "No screaming. Ask nicely."
Mama: "That's right. If something happens that makes you upset, it is not okay to get angry and yell. I know that Mama yells sometimes when she is upset and it is not okay. It makes God sad. Let's pray and ask God to help us have self-control and use our nice words, okay?...Dear God, We know that you want us to use self-control even with our voices (Titus 2:12). Help Mama and Exhibit A to talk nicely and use gentle voices. Please forgive us when we choose to sin and yell at other people. Thank you for helping us. We love you!"
Exhibit A apologizes to Exhibit C for screeching at him.
I sigh with relief...one crisis handled in a God honoring way. Again, praise God because it is HIS work in me that allowed me to reach my children's hearts for HIS glory! Heart training takes time, but I see the benefits little by little, in MY heart and in my children's hearts. I lift up a quick prayer that the rest of our day is handled similarly. It is only 8:30am...