As parents and grandparents, we often think about the “mixed messages” we send to our children and grandchildren. Do we grumble when it’s time to do the dishes or are we modeling a cheerful spirit of serving when something needs to be done? Do we speak poorly about a co-worker over dinner but then chastise our children if they say something unkind about a friend from school? Do we hold a grudge over a wrong done to us, but expect our kids to forgive “on the spot”?
Our children are watching what we say and what we do. They want to see that our words and our actions are congruent—that we live what we say. Our lives are a model, either for good or bad. Every moment we are teaching our children how to respond when hurt, angry, misrepresented, bullied, or even tired. God looks at our hearts and our actions—and He desires to see them align!
Practically speaking, we can witness “good behavior” in our children even if their hearts are not soft or willing. Likewise, we can have a child who has a heart that wants to follow Jesus, but who is still learning self-control and often fails. As a parent or grandparent, we become a living testament of how God works on both our hearts and our behavior. To faithfully lead our
children, we want to ensure that we are communicating this truth, and modeling it to those we love and desire to see grow in Christlikeness.
Ask yourself these challenging questions: Do you think your children or grandchildren would say that you care more about their hearts or their actions? Do you live your life in a way that says you care about your heart or your actions? Are you modeling a life that matches what you say you believe … or do you give yourself excuses for not living a congruent life?
After first reflecting on these questions personally, spend some time in God’s Word together as a family looking at this verse in Isaiah.
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13)
From this verse, we see that God intently desires our hearts to be close to Him. What we do and how we live must spring from a heart that follows Him.
Discuss these questions together as a family:
• If God wants my heart and my actions to line up, does this mean I don’t have to have the right
behavior if my heart is wrong? Why or why not?
• How do I make my heart close to God?
• Why do you think it’s tempting to say one thing, but do another?
• Why do we so quickly justify our bad behavior at times?
• Parents feel a lot of pressure to “get it right” and to have their kids “get it right.” What do you think God would say about this struggle?