The love of a mother is great. Charles Stanley once said that “Motherhood is a great honour and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servanthood. Every day, women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves.”
Some of us may not have experienced the sacrificial love and devotion of a mother. Remembrance of our mothers may bring more sadness than joy. God knows our hurts and the void in our hearts. He walks with us through our grief (Psalms 34:18, Psalms 147:3).
The love of our Heavenly Father is much greater and our mothers’ love is only a shadow of this greater love. Jesus did not die for us because we love Him but because of the Father’s love for us (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9-10).
Not only does God love us unconditionally, He also disciplines us to train us in our holiness (Hebrews 12:5-11). It is not out of sinful hostility to condemn us. Hence, God’s love and discipline are inseparable.
The same goes for parenting. To be godly parents, we must love and discipline our children according to God’s way. When discipline is absent, our love will only spoil them, causing them to become self-centred and narcissistic (Proverbs 13:24). However, if we overly correct our children without loving them unreservedly, resentment breeds in their hearts (Colossians 3:21). Many parents have well-intentioned efforts but struggle to figure out God’s way of parenting. As Paul Tripp puts it, “parenting is hard because it is a sinner with a sinner; and selfishness is the DNA of sin.”
Popular culture has made parenting more about our children’s developmental milestones, personal achievements and behavioural conformation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can lead our children to Christ by focusing on parenting their hearts. Every action and word spoken were first conceived in the hearts. The desires of our children’s hearts influence their actions and choices (Proverbs 4:23). The priority of Christian parents should be our children’s discipleship (Ephesians 6:4) and the shaping of their characters (Proverbs 22:6). When we focus on parenting our children’s hearts, they will learn to walk in the footsteps of Christ.