"Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."Tedd Tripp begins chapter three by focusing on a child's orientation to the Lord and how he either draws nearer or further away from Him. He reminds us (straight from Scripture) that it is the fear of the Lord that will make one wise and wisdom will determine how the child will respond to correction. I love how clear he was in explaining that "children are worshippers." All children (as well as adults) are worshippers. "Either they worship Jehovah or idols. They are never neutral." I was first made specifically aware of my idolatrous heart about a year ago when I listened to a three part series by C.J. Mahaney called "The Idol Factory." Tripp also does an excellent job explaining this. If we are not worshipping God, we are worshipping something else. That something else is an idol. Let me give a personal example. Often times when I feel the need for a quick little pick-me-up, I inevitably go grab my idol - a Hershey's Dark Chocolate bar. Is chocolate sinful? Not in and of itself. However, if I'm consistently reaching for chocolate instead of reaching for the Lord during times of struggle - then it has become an idol.
-Prov 9:7-10 (ESV)
"The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies." -Psalms 58:3 (ESV)
It doesn't take an adult to teach sin. If you've ever seen that sweet little baby throw a tantrum when you take something away from her, you know she's a sinner from birth. Tripp says, "We often are taught that man becomes a sinner when he sins. The Bible teaches that man sins because he is a sinner. Your children are never morally neutral, not even from the womb." Wow.
So now that we are aware that our children's hearts are not neutral, how do we know who or what they will worship? "Part of the parent's task is to shepherd him as a creature who worships, pointing him to the One who alone is worthy of worship." says Tripp. This is the issue that separates Tripp's book from most parenting books. Though we need to be providing the proper shaping influences (see Ch. 2), we cannot stop there. We need to dig further. Our child's Godward orientation will determine his response to life. Tripp cautions parents not to think that all of our children's issues are "simply a lack of maturity." What a good word. He gives examples such as selfishness and rebellion. Our children will not grow out of these things as they mature. They will only grow out of them as they rid their hearts of their idols and seek hard after God. We have the great opportunity to lead them in the right direction.
Tripp uses the story of Joseph to close the chapter. Though everything in Joseph's childhood (and even early adulthood) would assume the worst outcome, we see the opposite. Joseph was surrounded by negative shaping influences. However, his Godward orientation was strong and he became a great man of God.
Though I felt like the chapter was a little repetitive, it was still both encouraging and convicting. I have a great task ahead of me and I need the Lord's grace. I need to be pointing my daughter to the Lord on a daily basis - even now.
How have you helped shape your child's Godward orientation today?