Have you ever looked in the mirror an hour or two after dinner only to discover that a portion of your meal is still stuck in your teeth? You probably took care of the problem as quickly as possible (while reviewing in your mind how many people you had smiled at since you ate). You rinsed your mouth. You brushed your teeth.
The mirror helped you see what was wrong so you could do something about it.
God has given us a mirror to help us see what’s wrong with us, and that mirror is His Word, the Bible.
In it we read words like, “Love your enemies”, “In everything give thanks”, “Rejoice always”, “Lie not one to another”, and “Never take your own revenge”. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we read those words and realize that there is something very wrong with us. We don’t measure up to God’s holy standard.
When we look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word it’s not as tidy as discovering a piece of lettuce in our teeth. It’s more like going into the bathroom, flashing a smile at ourselves, and finding out a front tooth has a big chip broken off of it.
The mirror has helped us see the problem, but we can’t fix it on our own. If our tooth is chipped, we need outside help. We need a dentist.
When we go to the mirror of God’s Word, we see what is wrong with us. But we also find out that we can’t fix it ourselves. In fact, without God’s renewing power, we’re dead, and if we’re dead, we definitely aren’t going to be able to fix what’s wrong with us.
We need Jesus. We need the cross.
Read what He has done for us!
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14 ESV).
Are you remembering this Good News when you discipline and correct your children?
It’s true that we need to help them get a good look at themselves in the mirror of God’s Word.
- When they lie, we should show them verses like Colossians 3:9 and Exodus 20:16.
- We should help them understand how they have fallen short of God’s holy standard.
- We should show them from God’s Word how He wants them to live and think and speak.
- We should help them learn to acknowledge and repent of their sin.
But then what do we do?
Do we leave them with the impression that they just need to try harder? Or do we take them to Jesus, the only One who has obeyed God’s law perfectly?
If we don’t soak our correction and discipline in the good news of the gospel, we can unwittingly lead our children to believe they can or should be able to obey God in their own strength.
We may point to a verse and say, “Here, this is what God says about what you’re doing.” We may point to others and say, “This is what He wants you to do instead.”
But if we stop there, in essence we’re saying, “So go do it.”
And they can’t do it — not in their own strength.
As we point our children to God’s standard, we need to look them in the eye and say, “You can’t do this by yourself. You’re never going to meet God’s standard in your own strength. He requires perfection. What are you going to do about it?”
Then we can point them to the finished work of Christ on the cross.
As He died, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”
And it was.
Our salvation was won. In Christ, our sins were forgiven. In Christ, our debt was canceled. It was nailed to the cross.
And that frees us. We don’t have anything left to prove. We can quit trying to save ourselves. We can look in the mirror and admit our sin, and we can repent, because we can trust God. We are secure in His love — a love that He proved at the cross.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5, ESV).
In Christ, we are made alive.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. (Gal. 2:20, ESV)
We live this life by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us — not by faith in ourselves. We need to remind our children — and ourselves — of this over and over and over again.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).