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Welcome back. I’m your host AMBrewster, and today’s episode is called “If You Want to See Change in Your Family, You Absolutely Must . . . .”
Today we’re going to talk about the single most important ingredient for family change.
It’s the new year, we’re all hoping and praying that our children mature this year. We’re all planning to do things differently, and we’re anticipating that those changes will result in better and newer and . . . you know . . . better.
But, without today’s ingredient firmly folded between the layers of our resolutions, intentions, desires, and plans—and allowed to rise like a sourdough starter—we will not be successful. At least, we won’t be successful as defined by our Heavenly Father. And—Lord willing—that’s what each of us desperately wants for our families. We want Him to proclaim, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”
So, let’s jump right in. There’s no time to lose.
I want to be transparent with you today. I want you to see my heart and hear about my parenting struggles. I want you to understand that—even when I forget to mention it—every truth I share on these podcasts comes from God’s Word, but it also comes through my own life. What I mean by that is I never share anything with you guys with which God hasn’t first convicted me.
That’s not to say that I’ve learned my lessons and have it all figured out. No. It’s to say that I have been raked over the coals in each of these areas time and time again, and—unfortunately—many times I still haven’t really understood what God was teaching me.
Today’s lesson is one of those truths. I’ve counseled and spoken and preached this truth for years because it is biblically true. It comes directly from every book of the Bible, but there’s a huge difference between knowing something and understanding something. And there’s an even bigger difference between understanding something and believing something.
Whether it’s you or your kids, moving past knowing and understanding into the conscious choice to trust God’s truth and live accordingly is the goal toward which we should all be moving. And that includes me.
So, I’m not sharing today’s lesson with you because it comes from me. I’m sharing it with you because God wants each of us to learn this lesson, and I know that not because I “got a word from Jesus” or “the Lord told me,” but because it’s clearly written in the Bible.
However, I’m also not sharing this lesson because I already have it figured out, and I’m just passing it on to you. No. This is a truth in which I need to grow more.
This is a lesson under which God has been crushing me for years and years, and I love you enough to want to pass it on to you. And I’m going to make it really simple. This truth doesn’t require a huge series. This lesson doesn’t demand a massive lecture. The reality is simple. It’s probably even something you’ve heard before; you may have even heard it before on this podcast.
So, here’s my goal for today. If this information is new to you, I want to make sure that by the end of this episode, you know this truth.
Whether this information is new to you or not, if you don’t really understand it, by the end of the episode I pray you comprehend it better.
And if this is a truth that you know and understand, but you just don’t really believe yet, then I pray that by the end of today’s episode you are experiencing the conviction of God that you really need to put this lesson into practice in your life.
But before we read today’s Scripture passage, I want to take a moment to tell you that this episode is sponsored by Evermind Ministries. Evermind Ministries is the umbrella ministry under which Truth.Love.Family. sits—comfortably nestled in right next to The Year Long Celebration of God, Faithtree Biblical Counseling & Discipleship, and AMBrewster Ministries.
Evermind Ministries exists to keep God’s truth at the center of the human experience, and in order to do that more effectively in our digital age, we have launched the Evermind App. The Evermind App gives you access to a growing library of free and paid resources from each of the Evermind Ministries.
All you have to do is click on the link in today’s episode or visit EvermindMinistries.com to create a free account and download the app from the App Store or Google Play.
From there you can start taking advantage of all of our free content, and you can peruse our new online courses.
So, please check it out. And—oh, by the way—there’s a really cool way to share the App with your friends that will give them free access to our Biblical Parenting Essentials Conference.
Okay, we have three main goals today. We want to learn something, understand it, and live it.
1. What truth do we need to learn?
Please listen carefully as I read a very familiar passage.
Luke 6:39-42, “And [Jesus] also spoke a parable to them: ‘Can a blind man guide a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A student is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’”
What is the simple lesson Jesus is teaching us here? I’m going to frame this lesson for parents, but obviously these truths apply far beyond simply the parent/child relationship. They apply in every relationship even when one or more of the individuals in the relationship are not believers.
A. We can’t teach our children beyond our own spiritual maturity.
B. Left to us, our children’s spiritual maturity will never rise above our own.
C. We must address immaturity in our children.
D. However, we must first address our own immaturity.
This may be new information for some of you. You may never have heard or considered the fact that you can’t lead someone where you aren’t going. You also may never have meditated on the reality that even though you are probably more spiritually mature than your children, the areas of immaturity in you will hinder your children’s spiritual growth. And you potentially never knew that Jesus expects you to deal with your own immaturity before you can address your children’s immaturity in any meaningful way.
Well, now you know.
But I would think that most of us listening today have heard those concepts before. We’ve probably read this passage or heard it preached or taught, and yet we don’t consistently live it. Why is that?
You see, learning is a simple process that requires nothing more than paying attention and remembering. But that’s never enough.
It’s not enough to have heard it. It’s not enough to accept the veracity of the statements. We need to really understand what Jesus is teaching.
So . . .
2. How can we better understand this truth?
First, I would point you to an episode we did called “What is Your Child's Sin?” That episode fleshes out a biblical understanding of the relationship between sin and immaturity.
Second, I want to walk back through the passage and explain Christ’s teaching.
Before I do that, though, some of you may have heard the erroneous notion that there is no value to explaining passages in Scripture. “Let the Bible speak for itself. The passage is perfect the way it is, and any attempt to explain it is either pointless or potentially ‘adding to the Scriptures.’”
Well, I can promise you that I’m not adding to the Scriptures. I’m simply going to do something which is exemplified all throughout the Bible. It’s called “teaching,” and it’s a necessary part of the learning process because we all need to understand the Bible better. This is why we have pastors and teachers.
My favorite passage to illustrate the importance of what I’m about to do comes from Nehemiah 8. Nehemiah and Ezra have gathered the people in order to read the book of the law. They’re going to read the first 5 books of the Bible to everyone there. Verse 3 reads, “And he read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the ears of the people were attentive to the book of the law.”
The passage goes on to describe how it was read and how the people responded, but then verse 7 lists 13 Levites and says they “were providing understanding of the law to the people while the people stood in their place. 8 They read from the book, from the law of God, explaining and giving insight, and they provided understanding of the reading.”
This step is so important. We absolutely need to read God’s Word for ourselves, but we also need competent pastors and teachers who can provide the understanding in such a way that we are equipped for the work of the ministry.
Parenting falls under the category of the work of the ministry, and I want to challenge all of us today to better understand the commands Jesus is giving us in Luke 6 so that we can do the work of the ministry in our families better.
Lastly, in the second half of Hosea 4:14 we read, “For the men themselves go apart with harlots And offer sacrifices with cult prostitutes; So the people without understanding are ruined.”
When we lack understanding, it is so easy to be lead astray by wrong teaching or inaccurate conclusions.
So, here we go. Let’s comprehend this command better.
The passage starts, “And [Jesus] also spoke a parable to them: ‘Can a blind man guide a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?”
Jesus often used parables to visually illustrate spiritual truths. Here He starts with a simple example that there are consequences when a blind person tries to safely lead another blind person. Now, the purpose of this metaphor is not merely to warn blind people about following other blind people. This illustration actually sets the boundaries for everything that’s to follow. The rest of Jesus’ teaching in this passage is designed to be understood within the context of one incapable person trying to help another incapable person and the consequences that will occur if they do so.
So, the next thing Jesus says is, “A student is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”
Jesus changes the metaphor slightly, but He’s not changing the lesson. He’s merely expanding on it. Just like a blind person who’s following another blind person will only walk where his leader is walking (and therefore have the same experiences and suffer the same consequences his leader will), so too a student can only ever follow his teacher. If that student faithfully follows the teacher, the student will only ever be like his teacher. That means that he will have the same experiences and suffer the same consequences as his teacher.
As we relate this to our parenting, we absolutely must grapple with the fact that we can never help our kids be more mature than we currently are. But if you were to poll most parents, nearly all of them would say, “I want so much more for my child than I have or that I am.” And this sentiment doesn’t simply apply to material possessions. We all want out kids to be smarter than we are and more talented than we are, and—if we’re Christians—we absolutely should want them to be more mature than we are.
But—left to us—that last one can’t ever happen.
Now, before I move on, praise the Lord that our kids can be more spiritually mature than we because they will hopefully have more mature influences in their lives besides us, and—if they’re born again—they will have the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. So, I don’t want you to lose all hope because you rightfully want your kids to be more spiritually mature than you. It can happen. I confidently believe both of my kids have been given everything they need to be more spiritually mature at the age of 44 than I am right now at the age of 44. But none of that reduces the importance of the truth that Jesus is teaching us in Luke 6.
When you parent, you’re hopefully doing so to help raise your children up in their maturity. However, in that parenting moment, you are not capable of helping them be any more mature than you are being in that moment.
“Well,” you might say, “that’s perfectly fine. Even when I’m making poor choices, I’m pretty sure I’m more spiritually mature now than they are at their age, so being as mature as I am would still be great.” And I understand that thinking. If your child is just learning to walk, they don’t need an olympic athlete to teach them. The average adult with the average walking prowess is more than enough to teach a child to walk. In fact, young children who haven’t been walking for many years themselves—and who may be very uncoordinated—can also teach a baby to walk. But that is not what Christ is illustrating here for us.
Remember, Jesus is talking about blind people who lead blind people. He’s talking about teachers who are teaching their students to be like them . . . handicapped, unwhole, and destined for unfortunate consequences.
When we see our children making poor choices, and we step in to train them how to make better choices, there is far more going on in that moment than we realize. We’re teaching our children way more than we think we are. Most of the time we think that we’re merely teaching our kids how to sweep the floor or milk the cow or change the oil, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what is being taught in those parenting moments, and understanding that helps us to better appreciate what Jesus is teaching.
So, let’s continue with the passage in order to better understand. Jesus continues, “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’”
The type of leading—or parenting—Jesus is illustrating here is complicated. It’s not as simple as, “You did wrong, and you need to change.” No. Remember, every step along the way in this lesson, we’re supposed to be understanding it from the perspective that the teacher is no better off than the student. Therefore, the best we can do is lead them in our footsteps, and—under the circumstances of this parable—that’s going to lead to serious problems.
First, let’s address the fact that there is—in fact—a speck in your child’s eye, and yes, it does need addressing. The passage ends with, “then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’” Dealing with the speck in your child’s eye is precisely what you should be doing, but if you attempt to do so without first searching your own heart, then you are no better than a blind man who’s leading your child to certain doom.
Second, Jesus actually describes the spiritual issue in our own life as being bigger than the issue in the child’s life. He talks about a speck in the other person’s eye and a log in our own.
Third, Jesus says that when we try to deal with our children’s spiritual immaturity without first dealing with our own, we are being hypocrites. Of all the people with whom Jesus interacted during His earthy ministry, He was the hardest and sharpest with the Pharisees. The Pharisees added to the Law of God and pretended like their own standards were equally as important as the ones God’s had prescribed. By doing so, they put themselves on the same level as God. They were taking God’s job, they were legitimately adding to the Scriptures, and Jesus rebuked them time and time again. And you know what one word He repeatedly used to describe them? Hypocrites.
We parents are being hypocritical every time we call our kids to mature spiritually when we ourselves are not—in that moment—also maturing spiritually.
We absolutely have to first make certain that we are as spiritually mature as we can be in that moment before demanding that they be as spiritually mature as they can be.
Fourthly, listen to how Jesus asks the question: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?” The idea is that you actually can’t see someone’s speck if you actually have a log in your eye. And in a very similar way, we are incapable of understanding what the real speck in our kids’ life is the we have our own issues with which we’re not dealing. We’re going to see it wrong every single time.
But fifthly, we have to understand that there is hope in all of this. Jesus exemplifies that, yes— by God’s grace and His strength—we can deal with the log in our own eye and then successfully help our kids deal with the specks that are in theirs. This truth should not cause you to feel depressed or discouraged. If you feel that way, it probably has to do with the fact that you don’t want to have to deal with the log in your own eye, or you’re convinced you don’t have one to begin with.
But when we humbly recognize that we still need to mature in Christ, then this truth brings so much hope because Jesus is saying that real change can happen when we do it the right way.
Okay, so what are the lessons from this passage:
A. We can’t teach our children beyond our own spiritual maturity.
B. Left to us, our children’s spiritual maturity will never rise above our own.
C. We must address immaturity in our children.
D. However, we must first address our own immaturity.
It doesn’t matter if we’re parenting in what we may consider to be practical arenas like homework and chores and riding a dirt bike or if we’re parenting our kids to love their siblings, be joyful under trial, or pursue the Lord . . . we are leading them to ruin if we’re parenting them with sin in our lives.
So, we’ve answered the questions “What truth do we need to learn?” and “How can we better understand this truth?” Now we need to ask the question . . .
3. What does it look like to believe this truth?
More and more we’re witnessing the world teaching their children very wrong things. Parents are encouraging their little boys to dress in drag, mothers are helping their young teens get sex-change surgeries, we’re seeing people weaponize their kids by teaching them to verbally and physically attack those who disagree with them, and we’re watching people encourage their children to riot and loot.
If we truly believe the Bible, we absolutely must judge all of our parenting by whether or not what we’re teaching our kids conforms to the righteousness and holiness commanded in the Scriptures.
Now, remember, this is the belief stage. This isn’t simply knowing that God expects you to lead your children in truth, and it’s not simply understanding what it means to live a righteous, God-glorifying life. If you truly believe that God demands that you teach your kids how to be godly in their daily-living, then you are actually going to do that. You will shun the bad parenting advice of the world, and you will speak God’s truth into your children’s lives and apply it to their choices.
And we have a ton of resources to help you do that at Truth.Love.Family. For starters, you should download the Evermind App and get access to the Biblical Parenting Essentials Conference.
But Jesus isn’t just talking about what we teach our kids. A blind person may want to lead their followers away from danger, and the individual with the log in their eye does want to help the other person with their speck. But, believing this command is going to require more from us than simply having good “parenting content.” How we teach those truths is equally important.
We’ve likely all seen someone parent poorly. And what’s interesting is that the parent was probably trying to get the child to do something that was actually good. The parent wanted the child to play soccer better, they wanted the child to stop complaining, they wanted their kid to be home on time, they wanted the child to tell mommy before she went potty in her pants, whatever it was, most of the times you’ve watched someone parent poorly, what they wanted for their child was noble—even right and potentially godly. So, if the content was good, why was their parenting so bad?
It probably had to do a lot with how the parent dealt with their child. There was likely a lot yelling, loss of all patience, unkindness, etc. I once was in a grocery store and heard a father rebuke his middle-school aged son for being mean to his even younger sister, and the father used some very gratuitous profanity to do so.
Listen, I know how easy it is to be so distracted by our content that we don’t even see our method. The words coming out of my mouth have so often been decidedly biblical, but they were coming out in selfish anger and personal frustration.
Allow me to simplify this point. If in any parenting moment you are not experiencing biblical peace, contentment, joy, and gratitude . . . you’re in sin. If you’re not submitting your words and actions to the expectations of God . . . you’re in sin, and you don’t really believe the importance of this command like you think you do.
It doesn’t matter how wicked your child is being or how biblical the truth you’re trying to give him, if you are not being biblically grateful, joyful, content, peaceful, and obedient, then you are sinning against God and your child.
In fact, the log swinging out of your head at that moment is actually bigger than the speck in your son’s eye—the very speck you’re using to justify your own sinful behavior.
First of all, you’re older than your kids are. Second, you should be more spiritually mature than they are. Third, you’re being a hypocrite, he’s not. Why do I say that? Well, most of the time our kids are in sin, they’re not pretending otherwise. Your son is very clearly arguing for an unbiblical desire while not trying in the slightest to sound spiritual, but you’re supposedly trying call him to righteousness all the while acting sinfully. Your log is in fact a bigger deal than his speck, and the more you try to teach your kid to be righteous, you’re actually doing a far better job teaching him to be sinful, and there will be significant consequences for that.
So, if we really believe this truth, we have to make sure that we’re not simply parenting with the right content, we absolutely must parent in the right way. This means no sinful anger, no sinful fear, no hatefulness, and no selfishness.
But there is one more eternally necessary step we have to address if we truly believe what Jesus is teaching in this passage, and some of you already know what I’m going to say.
You have to teach the right thing, and you have to teach it the right way, but—most importantly—you have to teach it for the right reason.
I have been plenty guilty of teaching my kids the right things in the wrong ways, but I know I have been far more guilty of teaching my kids the right things in the right ways . . . for the wrong reasons.
And—believe it or not—that is often far more dangerous than teaching our kids that which is patently false.
In order to not be a blind man who is about to drop my kids and me into a giant hole, I have to have one—and only one—goal. In that moment, I’m not trying to remove my kid’s speck because I want them to stop what they’re doing. I can’t try to pull the dust out because I believe it will make them more successful in life. My one and only motivation for addressing their splinter has to be God’s honor and glory.
My child absolutely needs to work hard, follow instructions, flee fornication, speak honestly, be kind, read their Bibles, eat their asparagus, and all the other things that are righteous, but my child needs to do those things simply because they are an act of worship to their Creator. God deserves from them that they do their best and submit to His expectations for their lives.
So, when I see a speck in my child’s eye, I have to want to help them remove it simply because God deserves for them to have clear vision. When the Lord is my sole motivation, I won’t be selfishly motivated. It will be very easy to have peace, joy, contentment, and gratitude because I know Who God is, I know His expectations, the situation is not about me, and I can rest on His sovereign control as I faithfully parent for his glory.
If I truly believe what Jesus is commanding in this passage, I absolutely need to stop myself and consciously evaluate my parenting matter, method, and motivation. If I find that I am not responding in a spiritually mature way, I must address that before I can lead my children around the consequences before them.
So, in conclusion, if you want to do more than simply know and understand this parenting command, you have to actually change the way you parent. You need to communicate biblical truth in Christ-honoring ways—for God’s sole honor and glory. If you are parenting like that, you don’t have a log in your eye. Your vision is clear to see the pitfalls ahead and lead your children to safety.
Now, that’s easy to say, but if we recognize that up until this point, we haven’t actually believed this command the way we should, how do we actually change?
1. Recognize that you will almost always have something in your eye.
Neither you nor I are perfect, we're all sinners, and our sin natures are constantly rearing their ugly heads. We mustn’t be ignorant nor arrogant enough to think that we can simply jump into a parenting challenge and not at least be tempted to do the wrong thing in the wrong way for the wrong reason. We definitely will be tempted, and—if you’re anything like I—you definitely will give in to that temptation more than you think you do.
When we start humbly acknowledging that it is easier to parent with a log in our eyes than it is to enter a parenting encounter with perfectly clear vision, we’re being honest about our situation and setting ourselves up for success.
Since you will almost always have something in your eye . . .
2. Look for the log in your own eye before you deal with the speck in your child’s.
Now, this is not to say that we ignore our kids’ sin or allow physically and/or spiritually dangerous behavior simply because we have to take some time for self-reflection. What I’m saying is that you owe it to God and your children to parent for Him. It is desperately important for you to do your best through the power of the Holy Spirit to parent in holiness. Therefore, you absolutely must make the time for honest, humble, biblical introspection.
Therefore, wisdom dictates a three-pronged approach to this.
We need to look for the log in your own eye today, before the next parenting opportunity, and during the next parenting opportunity.
Let’s deal with the first one here.
The best way to identify the log in your eye is to meditate on Scripture, carefully comparing your parenting to the biblical commands for our communication, love, teaching, reproof, etc. Ask the Lord to open your eyes that you may behold wondrous things from His law about your life and parenting.
Of course, another amazing way to locate the log in our eyes also happens to be the most humbling. Ask your spouse. Ask your kids. Ask close friends who have watched you parent. Ask them in what ways you demonstrate your spiritual immaturity in those moments. Ask them to help you identify the logs.
And then when you have seen the expectation in Scripture and when you have a good handle on the ways you need to be more conformed to the image of Christ, start working on them before the next parenting conflict.
Of course, if the main log in your eye only appears during these parenting episodes, then you need to develop a Christ-honoring plan for how you need to respond the next time, and get some accountability who will help you.
Once you’ve identified the spiritual immaturity . . .
3. Deal with the log in your own eye before you deal with the speck in your child’s.
I mentioned earlier that you need to look for your log today, right before addressing your child’s speck, and repeatedly during the interaction.
We talked about the forethought you need to start today. Let’s look at the moment that parenting opportunity appears.
As you enter the challenge, pray. Ask the Lord to convict you of your own log and provide a way to escape the temptation you’re going to face (or maybe are already facing). And then immediately implement the truth you know and the advice you’ve been given about how to avoid the log.
This is what it looks like to identify and take the log out of your eye so that you can seen clearly to deal with your child’s speck.
Of course, don’t slip back into arrogance or ignorance. Just because you start well, doesn’t mean you’ll end well. Therefore, as you continue parenting your child, continue to check your eye.
Those logs can appear out of nowhere and completely blind us. We start parenting as an ambassador of God, but then within minutes we’re parenting for our own glory.
My friends, you might know that Jesus commands you to deal with your sin before you deal with your child’s. You may even understand what that means, but you don’t truly believe it if you’re not intentionally, consciously, and premeditatedly taking steps to obey Jesus’ command.
This is where I so often falter, this is where I have failed too many times, and this is where I—and the Lord—don’t want any of us to continue failing in our parenting.
If you want to see change in your family, you absolutely must start with yourself. You have to take God’s expectants and commands seriously. You have to actually live like you believe it’s true.
If you would like more encouragement and teaching on this subject, I have a number of resources linked for you in the description of today’s episode including our very first teaching episode ever. It’s called “Why Is It Always About Me?” and it sets the tone for our spiritual growth.
Please share this episode and the Evermind App with your friends. Social media is a great way to do that. And if you think you need individualized help in dealing with the logs in your eyes, please send an email to Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call (828) 423-0894.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our parenting.
To that end, we’ll be discussing “The Dangers of Assumptive Communication.”
I’ll see you next week as we dive back into Truth.Love.Parent.
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