The reading of the law might not be the most exciting narrative in Scripture. In fact, it’s tempting to skim through and think, “This doesn’t apply to me since I live after the cross.” But I believe every verse in the Bible is God-breathed with a purpose.
If you have spent much time with young children, I imagine you’ve cleaned up your share of spilled milk. I also imagine you’ve looked into wide eyes and heard, “I didn’t mean to.” And 99% of the time that would be the case. Spilled milk is an accident.
Are there consequences for accidents? There should be, according to what God told Moses. When a Jew was negligent, or unintentionally did something that resulted in a loss for someone else, there was a guilty verdict and restitution followed. There was never a slap on the wrist or a “Be careful next time,” from the judge. A penalty had to be paid.
Now, the consequence for an accidental crime wasn’t as severe as that for an intentional one, of course. But if your ox died while in my care, I was guilty of killing your ox whether it tumble down a hill and broke its neck, or I slit its throat.
For years, decades really, I have been concerned about what children are taught about rule-breaking. Let’s call it what it is: I’m concerned about what children are taught about sin. I’m afraid we are reaping what we have sown.
Many of the young adults in our world today have never been held accountable for wrong-doing. Parents don’t paddle. They don’t even show anger if their child does something wrong. Heaven forbid we raise our voices. What has three decades of this kind of child-rearing produced? I’m afraid we are looking at thirty year old toddlers.
But I’m going to tell you something. God makes it clear He never turns a blind eye to sin. He never winks, then sends us on our merry way. Sin makes God angry.
No, sin makes God furious. Including the adorable little temper-tantrum your child pitches in the grocery, or that lie you told your boss when you were late yesterday.
Often God’s discipline is swift and painful. The ultimate consequence is eternity without Him. But every sin will be accounted for. Every. Sin.
Next time you are tempted to brush off sin with a “My bad,” stop and think. Would you look into the eyes of God and say that? Would you want your child to?
Parents, paddle your children. If a child is old enough to drink milk from a cup, he’s old enough to help clean up the mess he made when he knocked it over. Let your child know disobedience angers you. Raise your voice. Why would you want your kid to feel good about himself when he has sinned?
It’s your responsibility to demonstrate in your home what I hope you want your child to do later on. That is to recognize sin. To be ashamed of sinning. To recognize the devastating consequences for sin. To understand that sin makes you (and God) very angry. Then to experience what it means to be forgiven when they come to you and ask for it.
Raise your children to be accountable for their actions, accidental or intentional. Raise them to want to do what is right for fear of consequences, for fear of your wrath, for fear of the awful feeling that comes when they are guilty of something. Don’t raise your children to say, “I’m sorry,” so they can get out of consequences. But raise them to ask for forgiveness because they are truly ashamed of what they did, and want you to forgive them, to restore a broken relationship between you and them.
Raise your children to be ready to go to their Heavenly Father, and receive all that Jesus died to give them.