“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach…For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” Deuteronomy 30:11, 16, 19-20
Very early in my journey as a Mom, God allowed Deuteronomy 30 to resonate within my heart. As I considered how the passage applied to parenting, I knew God had shown me a nugget in His Word, and it became foundational in our home.
Allow me to give you the background to these verses. Moses is speaking to the Israelites to prepare them for the Promised Land. The book of Exodus tells us that after God’s miraculous deliverance of His people from Egyptian slavery, the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert circling the land that was promised to them. A trip that should have taken 11 days took 40 years!
God was leading His people, but His people were fighting His direction.
Instead of obedience and gratitude, they chose to disobey, grumble and complain. The Israelites had a choice in Exodus: blessing or consequence. They chose consequence and thus missed 40 years in a land flowing with milk and honey.
In Deuteronomy, Moses reminded Israel of God’s incredible acts for his people, and then Moses reviewed the Ten Commandments showing them that obeying God’s laws brings blessings and disobeying them brings consequences.
Although you and I are not Israelites, the principle holds true: to obey or not brings consequences. In the above verses, Moses was commanding Israel to commit to God because He alone brings life!
What does any of this have to do with parenting our children? 🙂
Blessing or consequence? The choice is yours.
Just as God told the Israelites, He tells us. Life and death, blessings and curses have been set before us. What will we choose? God urges us in verse 19, “Now choose life!” Every day I have a choice to make. Will I choose blessing or consequence? My choices will either bring life or death. I want to choose life! I fall short, but my heart and flesh always cry out to the living God (Psalm 84:2). The same needs to be instilled in our children.
My children hear the same phrase repeated every day: “Blessing or consequence.” They have been taught that God has given them a choice. He is incredible that way. He never forces himself on any of us. Daily, we get to choose: blessing or consequence.
The voice of God echoes in our home, “Now choose life!” (Don’t miss that first word: NOW! Not yesterday when you didn’t mess up too bad. Not tomorrow when you might manage to “get it right.” NOW! It is never too late.)
“So that you may live!”
Do you hear the heart of God? He desires for you, me, and our children to live, flourish, thrive and experience His blessings!
When I instruct my 3 year old to pick up his toys and see the look that says, “Mommy, I’m just not feeling it!” I am quick to say, “Blessing or consequence. The choice is yours.” When he chooses to obey, I pour praise upon him. I tell him I am proud of him for choosing a blessing and for honoring God by obeying his Mommy. I clap and give him a big high five! I make a big deal out of obedience. My son receives blessing!
The consequences vary in our home. We use different levels of discipline for different things, and we get creative. For example, if one uses his mouth to say hurtful things to someone, then he or she has not chosen a blessing but a consequence. In our home, when you choose to hurt others with your tongue, you forfeit the right to use it. Hands go over the mouth. Words may not be used at all. The age determines the time.
Moms, no matter how exhausted I am, there is always a consequence when one is needed. There is never a time for complacency. The hearts of our children are at risk. Keep your eyes on the goal. We do not want our children to miss years of God’s blessings! So, run the race with endurance in mind. You and I can rest when we reach the finish line.
Regardless of what my children have done, just like the Israelites, they are loved and encouraged through the consequences! No matter what, children need to know they cannot strike out! They can always step back up to the plate and try again. According to Ephesians 2:4-5, our God does the same for us. “Because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our sins.” Therefore, He desires nothing less for His little ones.
While my heart’s desire is for my children to love the Lord and hold fast to Him, the choice is inevitably theirs to make. As they daily learn how to practically choose between blessing and consequence, I pray they will be led to love the Lord. As Psalm 34:8 says they have “tasted and seen that He is good!” May they listen to his voice as He urges them to “choose life!”
Friends, remember this isn’t too difficult for us or beyond our reach, as long as we love the Lord, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him! Allow Him to be your life. Apart from Him you can do nothing. But with Him? You can do all things!
*How are you teaching your children to choose life vs. death, blessings vs. curses? Please leave your comments below!