The other day I was thinking about parenting. More specifically, I was thinking about how to get my children to obey without asking me a ton of questions. Should I be more stern? Should I wait for them to figure out how to obey without me coaching them too much? It’s a complicated topic! The answer is probably somewhere in between the two extremes. My mind then shifted to God . . . after all, He is the Greatest Father! How does He parent us?
My first observation was that God is completely trustworthy. If He tells us to do something, we can obey without questioning Him. We don’t always do this, in fact, I question God a lot instead of obeying Him right away. He is patient with us as we ask questions. Sometimes He answers our questions, and sometimes He doesn’t, but He wants us to obey regardless.
Next my mind wandered to how God treats us when we disobey Him. I began to think about Adam and Eve in the garden. When they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked. They made loin cloths for themselves out of leaves. When God came to the garden this is how He responded (Genesis 3:9-13):
But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
God did not immediately condemn Adam and Eve to death. He still came to the garden and called for them. He gave them a chance to explain themselves. In my imagination, God is not outraged. He is patient and kind in His dealings with them, and He gives them their punishment. God also gives hope in verse 15 when He talks about the serpent bruising the heel of the woman’s offspring and he in turn bruising the serpent’s head. Many scholars say that this verse is a foretelling of the battle between Jesus and Satan at the cross.
After pondering this, I began to think about the unchanging nature of God. Since God doesn’t change, then He will deal with us in the same way that He dealt with Adam and Eve. He wants the same things from us as He wanted from them. Adam and Eve didn’t have a list of laws to keep in order to be right with God. They only had to abstain from eating the fruit from one tree. I don’t think Adam and Eve sinned the first day they were in the garden (of course I could be wrong), but I think they had a trusting relationship with God. Walking with Him was a daily occurrence. When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing that they did was hide from Him. They had disobeyed because they no longer trusted God. Satan was sure enough crafty in making Eve doubt God, and he still makes us doubt God today. All throughout the Bible, we see people making a choice either to trust God and obey Him, or doubt God and disobey Him. God is patient in each instance, even with nations that are not His chosen people. 2Peter 3:9 says:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God really wants a relationship with us that is built on trust. Jesus came to take our place in receiving the consequences of our sin – death. The only way to be right with God is to trust Jesus. His death on the cross will achieve for us the pardon of our sin and a restored relationship with God. Keeping God’s moral law is an outflowing or our trust in Him. Knowing that His way is best. When God says “Because I said so,” we can obey because He is trustworthy.
Returning to the subject of raising kids . . . I want a trust relationship with my kids too. They will more readily obey me if they trust me. The problem is, I’m not always trustworthy. I am not always patient and kind. Sometimes I say “Because I said so” out of anger and desperation. This attitude of mine will not build trust. I need to walk closer with the Lord and He will help me to be more trustworthy so that I can build good relationships with my children.