As parents, we love to give gifts to our kids at Christmas, don’t we? And while some of the gifts we give them are not so fun and more practical, there arethose other gifts we give that are thrilling because it’s the thing they really wanted.
And then, let’s be honest, there are those gifts we didn’t really want to give them but we did anyway because we were tired of listening to our kidsbegging for hours and hours. And finally, there are the gifts that we know were clearly for the purpose of impressing their friends.
But there is one more kind of gift – and it’s priceless.This is the kind of gift that can actually change your kids’ lives.
It’s the gift of grace.
This is a gift that our heavenly Father wants to give to all of us, actually, because at some point, we’re all in need of grace.
No onehas it all together! We might not want to admit it, but we all fall down sometimes. We all mess up.
Yet, for some reason, those of us with younger children especially, don’t want to believe that our kids are ever going to mess up. But even children whogrow up to be wonderful adults and who love God, could, in a weak moment, do something stupid.
So, if we want to give the gift of grace away to our kids, or even our best friend, we have to realize that our kids are going to need it – because we need it too!
Some of us have a hard time trying to wrap our minds around God’s grace. What is grace really?
Grace is the unmerited favor and unconditional love of God toward us.It can’t be earned. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Grace is free to us, but costly to God.The Bible says that we were “bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) Jesus became that payment needed cover the cost of oursins.
The cross is God’s greatest act of grace.Jesus, out of his unconditional love for us, took our place when he died on the cross to die for our sins.God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Grace, like our salvation, is a free gift from God, but it has to be received.
Somehow as Christians, we often enter into his mindset that we have to rack up enough “good deeds” to outweigh all the “bad deeds” that we’ve done in ourlife. But this is so wrong and unbiblical.
Do you know how many bad deeds and motives it takes to separate us from God? Only one. God tolerates zero sin. We can’t do enough good deeds to earn God’s grace. We just have to receive it.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
If you gave your kids a bunch of money and wrapped it up in a box with a ribbon and laid it at the foot of their bed, it wouldn’t do them any good unlessthey opened it up and actually used it. The same is true about God’s grace. It’s a gift that must be opened and received through faith.
Once we’re equipped with a proper understanding of grace, we need to teach our kids that failure does not have to define their future.
Look at the lives of David and Peter in the Bible. Both of these people are examples of some of God’s most beloved and mightily used servants. Yet, bothhad some pretty bad failures in life.
In the Old Testament (2 Samuel 11), we read about David who is described as a mighty warrior, righteous king, and “man after God’s own heart.” Yet thewords murderer and adulterer were later added to his biography.
Peter, in the New Testament, denied Christ three times! He had so much guilt and shame over denying and abandoning Jesus that he thought his ministry wasover for life so went back to fishing. But in John 21, Jesus restores him and Peter goes on to be used by God more than anyone in the early church exceptfor the Apostle Paul.
Your kids, whether they’re 2, 20 or 32, are going to make some big mistakes. So the question isn’t, “Will they ever make mistakes?” But, “How will they recover from those mistakes?”
And what they need to know is that their parents still accept and love them even when they mess up. Consequences, boundaries, and discipline — they allhave their place. But at the end of the day, what your kids need more than anything in the world is grace.
For additional resources on this topic, check out Chip’s newest book, The Real God: How He Longs for You to See Him.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip