Ch. 12 – Embracing Biblical Methods: Appeal to Conscience – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)
The issues of communication and the rod dealt with in the last several chapters imply two additional issues which are addressed in this chapter – appeal to the conscience and focusing on the redemptive work of God.
Appeal to the Conscience
As parents, in order for correction and discipline to be effective, they must be directed at our kids’ conscience. Kids will either excuse themselves or accuse themselves because of their conscience. As Tripp explains, “This God-given conscience is your ally in discipline and correction. Your most powerful appeals will be those that smite the conscience.” Tripp points to Proverbs 23 and numerous examples of verses in that chapter (17, 19, 22, 23, and 26) which model appeal to the conscience. Tripp explains, “the rod gets the attention, but the conscience must be plowed up and planted with the truth of God’s way.”
Tripp reminds us that in correction we must get beyond the outward issues of behavior and address the issues of the heart in order to have our kids deal with their ultimate issue of Godward orientation. We do this, and expose the issues of the heart, by appealing to our children’s conscience which Tripp describes as “the God-given adjudicator of right and wrong.” Tripp also notes the power of the gospel to smite the conscience.
Correction with a Central Focus on Redemption
The very first sentence of this section provides a good summary, “The central focus of childrearing is to bring children to a sober assessment of themselves as sinners.” The cross of Christ must be central to our efforts as parents to raise our kids. Discipline must be geared towards helping our kids to understand their total and complete inability to meet God’s standards and will absent the grace and mercy of God. In order to do this, the standard we hold our kids to must be as high as God’s standard. Tripp summarizes, “God’s standard is correct behavior flowing from a heart that loves God and has God’s glory as the sole purpose of life.”
The only other option is to lower the standard from God’s standard to something we think our kids can achieve. In doing so, we move our kids away from the self-assessment that is necessary to bring them to the cross of Christ. Ultimately, giving kids a standard they can keep results in hypocrisy and self-righteousness.
It is easier as a parent to give our kids a standard they can achieve than to hold them to God’s standard. After all, what parent doesn’t want his kid to succeed? In the end though, we do our kids a disservice when we set a lower standard. We teach them “self-esteem” and ignore the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. What a travesty!
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