My friend invited me to read a book about gospel-centered parenting with her, and I agreed, which is funny because I’m not actually parenting yet. I’m pregnant for the first time, so I felt a little silly when I picked up the book—but I like this friend and was excited for the chance to spend more time with her.
As it turns out, I needed this book—right here, right now. Not because I needed tips on how to parent my rounded belly, but because I needed to read about the kind of Father God is to me. With every chapter I read, my sense of awe and gratitude has grown because I’m seeing God in new ways—specifically as the perfect parent He is to me.
Most recently I read about how parents often expect their children to instantly change after being corrected or confronted when they disobey, misbehave, or fail in some way. Yet the author, Paul Tripp, explains that we expect something from our children that we often aren’t able to do ourselves. Then he invites us to see the type of parent God is—patient, gracious, and committed—and that we are all a work in progress, typically in need of much correction, forgiveness, and redirection. Parenting is a life-long project, not a one-time event, he says.
As children of God, our salvation and acceptance into His family is a one-time event, but our transformation—our thinking, acting, and speaking more and more like Jesus—will continue throughout our lives.
Tripp puts it this way:
Because of the complete work of Jesus, we are welcomed into God’s family, with all of the rights and privileges of being his children. We have been fully justified and completely accepted, but we are not complete, because there is massive change that needs to take place in us. Let me say it this way: the power of sin has been broken, but the presence of sin still remains and will be progressively eradicated. The most important word in the last sentence is progressively. Here’s what is important to understand: the Father’s work of justification is an event, but his work of transformation is literally a life-long process. When justifying you, God is fully aware that he is committing himself to a day-by-day process of illuminating, confronting, convicting, forgiving, transforming, and delivering grace.
(Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp)
Did you catch that last part? When God decided to bring you into His family, He was fully aware of the commitment it would take and He chose to fully commit to you. He knew you (and I) were a piece of work, but that didn’t stop Him.
And when we fail now—when we make a bad decision, disobey (again), or make a mess of our life or circumstances—He doesn’t throw in the towel. He doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect just because we’re forgiven. In fact, He knew we were incapable of perfection, which is why Jesus came to earth to live and die and do it all perfectly on our behalf.
So what does all of this mean? That there is grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. It’s been poured out on our lives because Jesus poured out His blood.
When you fail and feel defeated, remember what Jesus has done for you and take these words to heart: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6, NLT).
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