Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting to the Heart of Behavior, Chapter 1

Saturday's Shepherding (a Child's Heart)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45, my italics

Scripture speaks clearly on the issues of the heart. These truths apply to children and adults alike. As Tedd Tripp begins chapter one of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, he reminds us, “What your children say and do is a reflection of what is in their hearts.”

If Scripture is so clear, where do we get tangled up? In behavior. Tripp states, “Your child’s needs are far more profound than his aberrant behavior.” Why? Because behavior is not the heart issue – it is simply the outflow. Even more boldly, Tripp says, “A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable.” Wow! Such harsh words! And yet…so true! In Matthew 15, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocritical hearts. In the same way, a child that outwardly behaves yet inwardly disobeys is still sinning before the parent and more importantly before God!

Tripp says, “You must require proper behavior. God’s law demands that. You cannot, however, be satisfied to leave the matter there. You must understand, and help your child to understand, how his straying heart has resulted in wrong behavior.” He uses the example of two children fighting over a toy. We usually respond “Who had it first?” All the while, we neglect the fact that both children are sinning. The are both being selfish and preferring themselves before the other. We need to see past the “who had it first” and address both children and their individual sins.

But we don’t stop with sin. Tripp reminds us, “your concern is to unmask your child’s sin, helping him to understand how it reflects a heart that has strayed. That leads to the cross of Christ….It provides opportunities to show the glories of God, who sent His Son to change hearts and free people enslaved to sin.”

How marvelous! We have the opportunity to begin pointing our children to forgiveness in Christ at such an early age! Chapter one reminds us that we must learn to work from behavior back to the heart. “You must learn to engage them, not just reprove them,” says Tripp.

At the end of the chapter, Tripp reminds us that we are to go to Scripture for answers regarding childrearing. He says, “For too long the church has tried to integrate biblical and nonbiblical thought forms to answer the questions of parent. The resulting synthesis has produced bitter fruit.” I very much agree with this statement. While we can get helpful advice on practical parenting tips, we must not follow advice that is directly contradictory to what Scripture teaches us. We must see parenting advice in light of Scripture.

A lot of things to think about in just one chapter! I look forward to working through more in the future. What one bit of truth can you apply from what you’ve learned to one bit of your life today?

In Christ,
Terra Santos

P.S. If you're interested in following along, I will be summarizing and reviewing weekly, Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart. It can be purchased at most any bookstore.

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