A few weeks ago, Pastor Larry gave a sermon called, “The Song at the Sea,” based on Exodus 15:1-21 and the Israelites’ song of deliverance after God’s parting of the Red Sea. One of the points that Pastor Larry made was that, as odd as it might seem to some, we need to praise God for His righteous wrath. The Israelites did, and we should to0.
But wrath doesn’t seem praise-worthy to us for some reason.
Probably because when we see or experience it, it’s usually coming from the hands of a hot-headed, aggressive, angry, un-controlled, sinful human being. But God’s wrath is different. It is just. It is controlled. It is holy. God is not a monster or an enraged maniac. But He does hate sin, and He brings judgment upon those who rebel against Him.
As we move to the fourth “event” of the gospel, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus on the cross, we see God’s wrath on display. The cross is certainly a display of God’s mercy and His grace. It is afterall the means by which we can be cleared of our guilty record. But the cross is equally a display of God’s wrath and His hatred toward sin. Christ was suffering in the place of sinful people. He was bearing the full weight of God’s judgment in our place–as our substitute. The Father’s wrath and mercy met at the cross.
So what does this event of the gospel teach us about parenting and how to raise our children? Consider a few implications, many of which will not be popular:
1. We must teach our children that they deserve God’s wrath because of their sin. Hear us out. This won’t get you the “Parent of the Year” award very many places. Our culture is all about self-esteem and protecting the psyche of children. Some even consider it abusive to teach children that they are sinful. And though their heart for children is admirable, their understanding of human nature is flawed. We are not good–or even neutral. We are rebels against God…And in age-appropriate ways, we need to help our children begin to grasp their predicament before a holy God.
2. We must teach our children, especially as they get older, that it is not just behaviors, but even heart attitudes, that are sinful and therefore need to change. Jesus didn’t just suffer for outward actions; He suffered even for the internal, hidden thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. So we should lovingly teach our children to probe their hearts as they grow in their understanding.
3. As William Farley pointed out in his talk, we should never tolerate sin or be okay with it in our children. We need to “approach their sin aggressively but compassionately.” If God hates sin in our children, we should too. But we must never forget that we are sinners as well. Our children inherited their sinfulness from us. So even as we seek to help them identify and run from it, we must do so with great compassion and care–avoiding arrogance or harshness.
4. Finally, when we discipline our children, we should teach them to ask others for forgiveness (whether it is from their sibling, from us, or from peers). Most notably, we should teach them to look beyond their fellow human beings and realize that they are in need of God’s forgiveness. Teach them to ask Him for forgiveness. And encourage them that He will forgive them if they are united with Christ in faith. They don’t need to despair over their sin. There is great hope for us in the death of Christ!
Praise God for His wrath. Praise God for His Son who took the wrath we deserve!
“For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:20