Last week we saw a living example of how a parent’s unconscious sin, sin of which mother or father is totally unaware, can drive wedges between parent and child and drive them apart. Our only hope is that God will “open the eyes of our hearts” so we can see that sin of which we have been so ignorant.
However, our flesh stubbornly resists that revelation as it desperately attempts to avoid the cross and remain alive. As a result, we face a crossroads when revelation comes that we as parents may have some serious responsibility in the relational difficulties that are occurring in the family. “But isn’t he/she (spouse/child) really the one at fault?”, we reason. The flesh always tries to find someone else to blame as it continues to live by the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—desperately wanting to be good and not evil.
And you can always do so, as there is always plenty of sin to go around. Is your spouse or your child without sin in family conflicts? Of course not. The sin in the lives of other family members is ever on display before us, and we can place our focus upon their sin if we so desire. This is generally how family difficulties are addressed—point out, emphasize and work on eliminating the sins of spouses or children—and relational problems will invariably continue to fester and grow and not be resolved. To many parents, not being wrong is unconsciously more important than a restored relationship.
The Bible teaches a totally different tack. Jesus says that we first must focus on our own sin and deal with it before addressing the sins of others (Matthew 7:3-5). This is the crossroad we as parents face. Once we see our sin, do we cover and hide it, rationalize and excuse it, or face it head on, own it and pray Gospel Parenting Prayer #2, the prayer of the tax collector in Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:10-14? “Yes, Lord, it is I. I did it. No excuses. I repent for my own sin in this conflict. Oh Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”
It is this prayer of repentance from the sin that God has revealed to the human heart that releases the mighty power of God to break down walls and heal relationships. This cannot be done by the numbers, just because it is the right thing to do. Our children can sense that hypocrisy in a heart-beat. Our repentance can only be in response to a genuine revelation of the sinfulness of our hearts. Until that revelation comes, we continue to pray Gospel Parenting Prayer #1.
Over the past few years, I have learned by personal experience that the three prayers we are discussing in these newsletters have application far beyond the family.
Over 50 years of ministry, I have left broken relationships wherever I have gone. I have always subconsciously excused myself of any real culpability by blaming doctrinal differences, lack of commitment on the part of the other party, lack of appreciation for my prophetic gift, no concern for truth, etc., etc., etc. All of my rationalizations conveniently omitted any personal sin on my part. I was totally blind to that third level of sin – the thoughts and intents of my heart. Next week I want to share with you a couple of dramatic examples of what God is doing to restore some of those broken relationships, not only in my own family but with others as well, as God is opening my eyes to what my sin has done to others.