Are you a hypocritical parent?

How the Sin of Hypocrisy Can Hinder Our Children's Spiritual Growth
By Greg Cooper
Updated December 12, 2017   

Many times when I am correcting my children's “bad” behavior, I am frequently reminded by the Holy Spirit that I'm really no less sinful than a child, the one whom I just disciplined. In fact, most every one of the sins I am addressing in my child's heart also reside in my heart. The difference is, I am just mature enough to be able not to act all of them out. It took me over four decades to get to where I am now - to be able to hold my tongue about half of the time. This begs the question: how can I hold my child, who has been in this world for only a fraction of the time than I, at a greater accountability than myself? I think sometimes we expect perfection in our children on a subconscious level, all the while acting out however we want to: Yelling loudly. Condemning. Threatening. Grabbing a toy violently out of a child's hand. The day before we may have just sternly warned, “DO NOT grab that toy out of her hand again. That's disrespectful! Don't you get it?” More often than not, the Lord gently reminds me of my hypocrisy in those moments. But the choice is mine. I can either listen to Him or go on my way and remain a hypocrite. Sometimes parents, including me, think they are doing pretty well. So did the religious leaders of Jesus' day: "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs--beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity.” (Matthew 23:27) Not to get off topic here, but consider the dire words, “what sorrow awaits you”. Let's not be in fellowship with the deeds of the Pharisees and the religious leaders! Far too often it seems I have pushed the Holy Spirit aside so I can continue being angry in my flesh. In those moments my flesh takes precedence over the Spirit by intentional, stubborn acts of disobedience. Why? Because I get angry! And I sometimes justify it. Let's be honest, it sometimes feels good to put that child in her place sometimes. But, disgustingly, after doing so I put on a delightful display of hypocrisy for God's little one, and whatever other young impressionable eyeballs were carefully observing. What just happened? I taught them that I am disobedient to God's moral law and that being a hypocrite is acceptable - at least for a moment, just once in a while. Because of this my children might give a pass to their own bad behavior in thinking: “Dad does it so I guess so can I”. Is this how we are to act as an example when disciplining sinful behavior? By no means! But we are all guilty of it at one point or another. The goal is to go back to Scripture in learning how to parent well. First, we need to recognize that we are no better than our own child.
Time to get changed! We were born with a stinky, sinful nature. To God, the stench of sin is far worse than that soiled diaper we might have just changed. It’s better to admit that we're far too often losers in this battle than to think we are better off than our children. It's called humility. We need to remove our own "dirty diaper", and clean ourselves up by washing up in God's forgiveness and grace (yes, we have to be humble and ask for it), and change by clothing ourselves with humility (1 Peter 5:5). Miraculously He gives us more grace than we deserve. That is why Scripture says elsewhere: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (James 4:6) We must change how we behave and how we speak when disciplining. This is an impossible task if the Holy Spirit is absent. You might be able to do it for the next ten minutes on your own feeble strength, but not consistently day after day. Personally, I ask the Lord for help in changing my behavior, my attitude, frustrations and stubbornness. And He does (when I ask truthfully). And although I still fail, I continue to press forward. It was Jesus who told us: "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) This includes possessing and practicing the fruits of the Holy Spirit - which is completely necessary and expected, by the way. God is true to His word, so when you ask for a fruitful life He will give it to you when you seek Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength! Have a look at the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that God can help you possess: Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness Goodness Faithfulness Gentleness Self Control 

He responds by allowing that Spirit to work in our heart, which helps us to practice these fruits and gets us back on the right track - if we follow Him - if we submit to Him. Are you obeying the voice of the Lord? Are you reading the Bible? Are you praying?  We simply can not expect Jesus to just show up in our struggles with our children and change our lives when we only passively ask God for help without really knowing Him.  We can't expect these fruitful characteristics to just be there if we are not seeking Him with all of our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 6:33). Friend, this job of raising children takes the giving up of our lives. Jesus said it clearly: "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 6:24) This should resonate with us if we are humble enough to receive it. Taking up a cross certainly isn't easy, and part of bearing a cross is dealing with our children in a submissive way. We parents must submit to our King - King Jesus - whom we must also obey and follow. Then, afterwards we can lead our children correctly. Let us not be hypocrites, those whom Jesus so often very harshly rebuked. 

So the next time you catch yourself in your hypocrisy like I often do, repent. Ask God to help you. Ask him to forgive you. As an act of humility, ask your child to forgive you as well, which will be a great example for them, and keep moving forward toward Christ!     


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