“Good Enough” is not a useful standard

dennis the menaceAmong the pitfalls of Christian parenting, I know of none any trickier to navigate than moderating youthful behavior: I want my child to become obedient, and to obey the FIRST time I give the instruction or command. I want to be consistent in doling out consequences for failing to obey. But both parent and child are human, and we fall short. My granddaughter Lucy doesn’t always want to bend her own will to mine (surprise!!)–and her most stubborn moments sometimes coincide with my greatest fatigue…I am just too tired to want to follow through.

In addition, I am aware of not wanting to send the message that I demand perfection, or that her perfect obedience is required in order to receive my love (or God’s).  Neither Lucy nor I can ever be “good enough” to merit God’s favor. And He has made it clear through His Word that He loves us in spite of our faults.

Golden-RuleBut just as we continue to lower the bar in education, so that no child will be left behind or feel less than ‘special… …I wonder if we unconsciously lower the behavioral bar as well, by refusing to call sin ‘sin’, by letting ourselves off the hook, by hoping that God ‘grades on a curve.’  Do we secretly think that His holiness and righteousness are just His personal preferences, rather than standards both high and non-negotiable? Why else did God Himself have to provide the sin offering to pay for our guilt?

Since as a believer in Christ’s sacrifice, I know I’m forgiven, do I ever whitewash my current behavior by thinking, “Oh well, God will forgive me”? Do I neglect the pursuit of holiness, viewing my frequent failings as inevitable? Do I think, “Oh, well, that’s good enough” when I succeed only for a short time in conquering a sin? God help me, I do.

The apostle Peter, in his second letter, wrote that we have:

everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

 (2 Peter 1:3 NIV)

We have everything we need–He has given it to us. So we can just relax now, right?  No!

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

(2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)

Balancing the knowledge of my own inherent weakness and need for a savior, with the reality of living as one redeemed and capable of pursuing righteousness, being effective and productive for the Lord, is the work of my lifetime.

mother and daughterSo I certainly should not be surprised when Lucy displays defiance, when she screams in frustration, sneaks another piece of candy…she hasn’t even reached the point of understanding fallenness, much less the struggle to live a holy life. But if I want her to begin as she is to go on, I have to model for her that there IS a high and holy standard. And I have to gently love her through every failing, and encourage her to try again, just as God never gives up on me.

For a parent, anything less than this model is really not good enough.

12 responses to ““Good Enough” is not a useful standard

  1. Reblogged this on The Christian Gazette and commented:
    Amen and amen! Great post!

  2. Excellent post!! Thank you and Amen!

  3. “Hasn’t reached the point of understanding fallenness”…I love that line! How many will never reach this point? Or in our culture how many will understand their fallenness only to embrace it and proclaim it good? I enjoyed your post as always – thank you.

    • Thank you, Greg, for reading and for your encouraging words! I only pray that her Papa and I can lead Lucy to that point of understanding–and beyond!

  4. livinrightinpgh

    The Apostle Paul told us that salvation and forgiveness are never a license to sin.

    Like children, far too many adults only measure the EARTHLY cost of their behavior….

    • Yes, we so often are short-sighted…we see only the near results. How often do we mutter, “Well, I ‘m not hurting anybody…”?

  5. ‘…do I ever whitewash my current behavior by thinking, “Oh well, God will forgive me”?’

    I totally agree and it’s something I certainly struggle with too. It’s the sort of thing “Christians” say when they support the gay lifestyle or living in any other blatant sin. They always say “God still loves me no matter what.” That’s true, in a sense, but He also has His holy standard and has made sin very clear.

    When we willfully disobey we are in a very tenuous position. I know it’s a debate among theologians whether we can lose our salvation or not, but as a layman I’d rather not play games and find out.
    The idea is never to see how close to the line we can get without losing salvation. The idea is to know where the line is and keep as far from it as possible and draw as close to God as possible.

    Keep up the good posts!

    • “The idea is never to see how close to the line we can get…” Exactly!

      Sometimes we act as if what God is calling us to reject is impossible to do without–and often it’s really a momentary pleasure. “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood…” (Hebrews 12:4). Apparently, we SHOULD struggle that hard!

      Thank you for your encouragement, Dan! Fight on!

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