In the Beginning, there was one rule – one limit: Do not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. That was it. And as history has shown, Man was unable to obey that one rule. And just as rules have existed since the dawn of time, so too have consequences. God was very specific in what the consequence would be, should Adam and Eve disobey His Command: death. But God created man out of love, and for the purpose of having a relationship with us. As our Father, He wanted to be just and He was merciful. But He also knew there must consequences for choices we make, so there was indeed a consequence: eventually death would occur; the privilege of eternal life was lost. In this, God shows us the importance of fair, just and consistent consequences. In today’s world, parenting “experts,” and society in general, often advocate for children to be much more active participants in their discipline than was ever intended by God. Many parents today “talk” to their children with the hope and belief it will be enough to change their child’s behavior. Yes, it’s good to educate, teach, guide and have a relationship with our children through communication. But when “talking” is used as a consequence (such as lecturing) children will often turn a deaf ear. The value of the conversation is lost and what’s left is a failure to take action in response to disobedience. Can you imagine if God had talked to Adam and Eve the way we talk to our kids today:
God: I’m very disappointed in the two of you. Very disappointed. Didn’t I tell you not to eat that fruit?
Adam: Well...it just looked so delicious. And Eve said you wouldn’t really get that mad.
Eve: I never said that! It was Satan’s idea!
God: It doesn’t matter whose idea it was, the point is you weren’t supposed to eat it. Did you think about the consequences of your behavior before you did it? What were you thinking? You KNOW Satan lies!
Adam: I don’t know….
Eve: I don’t know…
God: I ought to just cast you out of the Garden, you know that? You only had one rule – one rule! That’s it. That’s all you had to do was NOT eat that d%$n fruit! I mean, this behavior is un-acceptable! What do you think should happen?
Adam: I don’t know…
Eve: I don’t know….
God: Well…I’m going to give you one more chance. But if you so much as LOOK at one more piece of fruit on that tree, I swear to God, I’ll kill you!
Sounds ridiculous, right? Yet as parents, we often talk and talk about a child’s behavior, even in times when all that really needs to be done is the provision of a consequence. The only time we really need to talk to our child about breaking a rule is if that child truly didn’t understand a limit or potential consequence. And even then….a consequence still may be warranted. Giving in, compromises, second or even third chances – these only undermine a child’s faith and trust in our consistency and parenting. Like God, we parent our children out of love. Our children need to trust that we will follow through with consequences.
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