Sharing the Gospel and extending grace elsewhere will be hard and inauthentic if you don’t start at home.
The message of the Gospel is grace to the core. The apostle Paul put it this way, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8) The gift of Jesus, His death on the cross, the payment for our sins, the glory of the resurrection—none of these is earned or deserved. God knows all about our sin, and yet He entered human history to die for us anyway.
Parents can live the Gospel in their home as they are daily reminded of the undeserved grace and mercy God has shown by forgiving their own sin and failure. Parents who have received grace can humbly walk in grace. As this happens, they can freely extend it to others, beginning with their children.
Grace is not about spoiling kids, nor is it opposed to discipline and correction. Rather, it is quick to forgive, committed to restoration, and lavish with kindness and love. It is a love that is based on what is good, right and true—yet it is motivated by mercy and a deep awareness of our need for God’s saving help through Jesus. Our children should be reminded on a regular basis that they are loved by God, precious in his sight, and valued more than they dream.
Grace rules a home when parents tell stories of how they have received the forgiveness of Jesus and model that same love by forgiving their children. Parents set an example for their children when they repeat the story of their conversion, sharing the Gospel with their kids, again and again, with awestruck humility. Parents inspire their children to seek God for themselves when they talk freely about how God loves, guides, helps and forgives them, all in the normal flow of everyday life.
You know that the joy of God’s grace has permeated a family when parents can admit their own frailties, faults and foibles to their kids and rejoice with them that they are saved by grace alone. My wife, Sherry, and I have both experienced moments when we handled something poorly with our boys, and we had to ask them for forgiveness. These became sacred moments as our boys discovered that parents need grace too. Children begin to understand grace as their parents forgive them quickly, not holding grudges or reminding them of past failures. When our kids admit a mistake and confess it, we model the love of God and remind them that they are cleansed, forgiven and loved.
The culture of a home also reflects grace when parents refuse to speak judgmental words about people in their community, church or extended family. If we have sharp tongues and critical spirits behind closed doors in the privacy of our homes, our children hear this and soon recognize our hypocrisy. We can declare that we live in the love of God, but our words become a compelling witness that the Gospel of grace does not yet rule in our heart and home.
Do you want to be a messenger of grace and a conduit of God’s love? Start at home. If you live grace and extend it freely in your home, the light of Jesus will shine from there into your community and everywhere you go. If you can’t get the grace thing really happening in your home, it is going to be hard to extend it anywhere else and have it be authentic.
Are you living and modeling grace in your home? If you are not sure, ask your kids, spouse or roommate. They will let you know.
If you want to get started, there are a number of ideas to get you moving forward in the paragraphs above. Give one of them a try and see what happens.
For more on this topic see Organic Outreach for Families by Kevin and Sherry Harney.