The One Thing To Remember When You Mess Things Up

This is a brief excerpt/abridgement from my favorite chapter (and perhaps the most important one) from my new book, The Talk(s). The chapter, called "Mistakes," deals specifically with the failures and sins in our kids and in ourselves. With specific regards to our sexuality, it is something to which most everyone can relate. 


The old saying goes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While the bulk of what I wrote in The Talk(s) is about prevention, the fact that our families are made up of real people requires us to also talk about the cure. It would be wonderful if teaching well and setting parameters and coaching our kids toward a Godly standard for relationships and sexuality were an ironclad insurance policy against failure. But they are not. Our kids are going to fall short of God’s ideal. So are we. We know this from our past and by the choices we have made since the sun came up this morning.

If we don’t recognize the propensity towards sin in ourselves, then we probably have issues that need to be dealt with long before we deal with any issue related to our kids. For we all stand on common ground in our need for a savior. If we are looking down on our kids from an ivory tower of righteousness, then a serious perspective adjustment may be in order. I would suggest a reading of Psalm 14:2-3, Romans 3:10 or Matthew 7:3. Seriously, stop reading this and examine those verses before going any further. Given our condition, we all need grace. Lots of it.

Which leads us to the issue of mistakes. Regrets. Personal failures. Whatever we choose to call it, we all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s very best for us.

While there is nothing wrong with setting a high standard of purity for our kids regarding their dating relationships, we do not want to become so militant that the fear of failure leads them to hopelessness. Or even worse, that it pushes our kids to rebel. They must confidently know that their home is a place of safety and grace when they fail. And fail they will. Just as we do every day.

As Christ described in the parable of the prodigal son, parents should always be ready to offer second chances. If our family values are more marked by right and wrong than they are by repentance and restoration, then we are missing the point. Because the primary message of the gospel is grace, not rules, there is great value in making sure that our kids clearly know that there is nothing that they can ever do that will make us stop loving them.

Tonight’s homework: if your kids haven’t heard that in a while, be sure to tell them before the sun goes down today.

Too many people believe that God’s standard is like a pass/fail test. If we don’t measure up, there is punishment, consequences, and ultimately rejection. Praise God that the fundamental message of the cross is something completely different! When you (or your kids) mess things up, we must remember that God offers total forgiveness.

Specifically, the cross declares some very good news for us:

We can know that we have a new status before God. “Although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” (Colossians 1:21-22) Because of the cross, the believer’s identity is no longer as a sinner, but as one who stands holy and pure before God.

As has already been mentioned, we can be confident that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Because of the cross, we are no longer condemned for past sins.

We can be sure that God that has removed our sins “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) Because of the cross, God does not deal with us on the basis of our sins, but on the fact that we know Jesus as Lord.

We are fully forgiven by Jesus. We must embrace this integral part of the gospel and make sure our kids know it, as well. Not only as it relates to God’s mercy, but also as it relates to the grace and forgiveness we extend to them. Parents must walk in the light of this good news, but also strive every day to pass it on to their kids.

Q. Are you walking in the lavish grace of God today? Are you extending that same type of grace to those that you love?

*Check out my brand new book: The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Talking about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. It has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. Whether your kids are 6 or 16, it provides practical help to help your kids to make wise choices in a messed-up world.

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Barrett JohnsonComment