3 Ways to Help Kids Connect Obedience with Joy

The Gospel Coalition | 5/26/2018 | Staff
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“Obey? What does that mean?” The boy I was tutoring stared at me in confusion.

I had just been telling him that he should do his homework to obey his dad—until I realized I was using a foreign word. I was stumped. How had this boy gone seven years without hearing the word “obey”?

Sense - Homes - Omit - Word - Vocabulary

It actually made sense. Many non-Christian homes, including his, omit this word from their vocabulary. They might even shun it altogether. Obedience has baggage, after all. It’s linked to rules, to consequences, and—worst of all—to authority.

The word “obey” is out of place in our don’t-tell-me-what-to-do society.

Christians - Reaction - Word - Obedience - Means

But Christians should have a different reaction to the word. For us, obedience means blessing, not baggage. And the ultimate authority who was our Judge is now our Savior.

For Christians, obedience means blessing, not baggage.

Obedience - Blessings - Part - God - Family

Obedience draws us into all the blessings of being part of God’s covenant family. But obedience goes against our sin nature, so we have to teach our kids how to find joy in it.

Here are three ways to help your kids connect obedience with joy.

Reason - God - Fatherly - Love - Big-picture

“Because I said so” is reason enough to obey God. Yet in Fatherly love he lets us in on his big-picture plan for obedience. In his Word he shows us why we should obey. And he tells us to do the same for our kids.

When the Israelite children asked their parents, “What are these stones for?” God told the parents to explain all he’d done for them in the wilderness (Josh. 4). Obedience and teaching must go hand in hand.

Obedience - Negotiation - Obey - Questions - Kids

This doesn’t mean obedience is subject to negotiation. “Obey first, questions later,” we rightly tell our kids. They must obey whether they understand or not. But it’s our job to help build that understanding, imitating the beautiful covenant love that God has for his people.

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