“I try so hard, Mama,” Abigail said as she climbed on my lap, “but I still keep sinning. I’m terrible.” A pout filled her face.
“Ask Jesus to help you, honey. We all sin, and we can’t stop with out Jesus’s help.”
Her sassy self sat up. “I DO ASK! He doesn’t help me.” Her lip quivered, tears moistened her eyes. “I don’t know why He doesn’t help me.”
I’d like to say I had the perfect answer for this practical, theological question. It’s real, isn’t it? Raw. I relate to it. I don’t want to sin. I want to obey my Savior. But moments come (lots of moments) when sin wins out. And even though I ask for help, sometimes beg for help, I still choose to act differently than I am. I choose to act like I’m NOT a child of the King. Like I’m NOT justified by grace and re-birthed into a new creation made for His glory.
I think the answer has to do with grace, don’t you? In the midst of pondering this, I stumbled across this verse.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 ESV)
My little children. Ahh. I ALWAYS need the reminder that I’m Christ’s child. Sometimes I forget, do you? I think I’m not a treasured precious child, but a lowly servant, who he tolerates but doesn’t love. No. That’s not me. I know this is John talking, but it reminds me that Christ loves me and calls me His little child.
I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. Crazy! God cares about my struggle with sin. He’s provided for this struggle by giving His Word. When I bury myself in His Word two things happen (among others):
1. I remember who He is. My Abba Father, my loving husband. Tender shepherd. A just God, yes! But His justice will NEVER be directed toward me because every last drop of it was taken by Christ on my behalf. To all who belong to Him, His face never frowns. He always loves and welcomes.
2. I see my sin. Second Timothy says the Word of God is good for…reproof. He gently redirects me. When I yell at the kids, the Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to say, “Hey, O, remember I’ve called you to lead your children with gentleness.” I run to the cross, receive forgiveness, and try again. That’s why the next verse is so amazing.
But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Our Father knows we’re going to fall to sin, that’s why He sent Jesus. And then, so remarkable! He takes our sin and uses it for our good and His glory. When I sin, I have no where to turn but back to Him. What else can I do but cling to Him, fix my eyes on Him. And that grows me in my faith–the very thing He promised to do.
So what did I say to my sweet Abigail? I hugged her and let her cry. Then ventured these words of comfort. “As long as we live, we’ll keep sinning, honey. But even if we sin a million times, Jesus will always forgive us, because He took our punishment on the cross. Remember? He loves you, even when you sin.” We prayed and she calmed down, perhaps feeling Christ’s love and forgiveness. I hope so.
I know she’ll continue to struggle. I’ll probably have to say those words over and over again, but how grateful I am to a heavenly Father who models forgiveness to me—so I can pass it along to her.
God bless and keep loving your kids like there’s no tomorrow,