Adam was designed by God from the inside out to trust his heavenly Father. That trust was so complete that it defined Adam as a person. He was totally secure in God’s presence even as he stood naked before the holy King of the universe. But the instant Adam gave up that trust, he became a pathetic coward who in shame and fear refused to protect his wife and honor his God. Adam went from security to fear in a heartbeat. He became a creature he was never designed to be.
Adam knew fear, doubt, worry, and anger instantly. Instead of being a creature of trust he morphed into a blame shifter. He traded the beauty of innocence for the anxiety of self-reliance. In sacrificing his trust for God, he lost the ability to trust others. The final horrific outcome of Adam’s failure to remain secure in his Father is that he passed this sin of distrust on to his children, to you and me, and to our children.
If your children cannot trust, all they have left is fear-driven insecurity. This lack of security breeds fear which results in outbursts of anger, distrust, the need to control, manipulate, cowardice, self-protection, lack of compassion and so much more.
Parents, if you fail to recognize the role that fear and insecurity play in your children’s behavior, you will not be able to address the heart issues that control them. Your attempts to parent them will end in futility.
God, in his kind, good provision has made the way to build trust and security into our lost lives. The saving grace of the gospel makes it possible to model trust for our children. The perfect love of Christ drives out fear. As children see you being secure in Christ, trusting in the power of His love for you, they get a picture of the trust they were truly designed for.
You and I, just like our children, were destined for punishment. Living with this weight around our spirits is more than any human can bear. Fear has to do with punishment. But in Christ’s perfect love, punishment is thrown out by his sacrifice. So it is the perfect love of Christ that drives out fear (I John 4:16-18).
Because of this love, you are secure in Christ and no longer need to fear punishment. This is the blessing that you must provide for your children. They need to see that you are secure in your relationship with Christ. They need to experience that perfect love of Christ flowing from your heart to their hearts.
This is why your discipline cannot be, must not be, about punishment and retribution. This kind of parenting is what breeds fear, insecurity, and lack of trust in your children.
Your discipline is to be about tenderly nourishing your children to embrace the love of Christ in their lives. Your children need to know that in Christ they can be what God designed them to be, people who are secure in him and who know the wonder of trust once again.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.