TLP 96: Why Do Your Children Do What They Do? | The Merest Christianity, Part 2
Have you ever wondered what got into your kids head that made them do what they did? Today AMBrewster helps Christian parents understand what the Bible says about why we do what we do.
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Welcome back to our study into The Merest Christianity — what it is, how it affects our families, and what we can do about it. If you didn’t hear part one, you really should listen to episode 96 before continuing.
Lord willing, today on our journey to discovering The Merest Christianity, we’re going to find out why we and our children do what they do. And before you’re tempted to say, I know why my kids sin . . . they’re dirty rotten sinners, let’s remember that our first goal is to apply these truths to ourselves first.
But more on that in a minute.
I just wanted to say that the conference I attended this last week in Jacksonville, Florida was amazing. You can always trust the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors to start with God and his word and apply it out to nearly every facet of the human experience.
But I don’t really want to talk about the conference so much as to tell you about this wonderful premeditated parent from Texas that I met while I was there. Sonya and her mother tracked me down and genuinely encouraged me with their words. Sonya and her husband listen regularly to TLP, and they share it with everyone they can. I would call them true “superfans,” and I’m so happy she introduced herself.
And I want all of you to know, that if we’re ever in the same area, I would love to meet you. I’d love to hear your story, meet your kids, and take some time to glorify God together.
And that goes for emails too. I love hearing about the emails you send to TeamTLP or our Counselors, and I try to reply to as many of those as I can.
God is too good to not celebrate, and I love celebrating Him with The TLPFamily.
Okay, let’s jump right into our study.
Last time we were reminded that real, genuine change can happen in our families, but — as I said — we always need to start with us. As we learn and grow in these areas, we’ll be that much more equipped to teach it to our children.
So, this time, we need to figure out why we do what we do and say what we say. There’s so much biblical data to answer this question, so I want to reduce our study to a beautiful metaphor found all throughout the Scriptures — the picture of a tree and its fruit.
Fruit is repeatedly used to represent those things we say and do. It’s also used to picture our accomplishments, character, souls we won to Christ, and it occasionally represents our children as in Psalm 127:3 and Luke 1:42. But let me share just a sampling of the more familiar Scriptures that deal with Fruit.
And there are many more passages that detail where fruit comes from, the differences between good and bad fruit, how to purge the bad fruit, and so on. And though we’ll consider some of these questions later on, for now let’s focus in on one evidence of love, two kinds of people, and end our time by answering the question “why do we and our family members do what we do?”
1. Number one, let’s consider one very important evidence of love. In John 14:15 Jesus, Himself says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” James discusses in great detail the necessity of living out what we say we believe. And though it’s true that people can fake righteousness for a while, true love for God will always evidence itself in the way we and our kids live.
I love using John 14:15 with my whole family. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Keeping God’s commands in what we say and do is directly tied to our love for God. This isn’t surprising since Jesus also told us that they greatest command is to love the Lord our God. Therefore, we know that love is at least part of the equation for why we do what we do.
But moving on . . .
2. Number two, let’s use Psalm 1 and Matthew 7 to understand that there are only two types of people in the world. First, let me read each passage.
Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
Matthew 7:17-20 says, “Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
These two passages separate the entire human race into those who have a good relationship with God and those who don’t. Psalm 1 refers to an individual who has a good relationship with God as a righteous person, and they’re described as a healthy, productive tree. Matthew 7 also refers to them as a healthy tree and tells us they bear good fruit.
On the other side we have those who do not have a relationship with God. Psalm 1 calls them ungodly and compares them to dead chaff. Matthew 7 calls them a diseased tree that bears bad fruit.
Most of you should know what chaff is. I like to compare it to that papery husk you find on a peanut after taking it out of its shell. It’s completely worthless to us from every aspect. It doesn’t taste good, feel good in our mouths like that outer shell on our popcorn, or provide any health benefits. It’s completely worthless to us. That’s why in Bible times they would throw their grain in the air during a strong wind. The weighty grain would fall back to earth and the papery, worthless chaff would be blown away.
That’s how God through the pen of David describes those who do not have a relationship with God.
So, we’ve seen that our fruit is related to our love for God and the strength of our relationship with Him, and I think we all agree that makes sense. But I believe there’s more.
Let’s fill out our tree metaphor. We all know that trees nourish themselves in a few ways. They utilize photosynthesis, and they also soak up nutrients and water through their roots. For right now, I don’t want to overcomplicate the metaphor, so we’re going to ignore the photosynthesis and focus on the roots. Without a good root system, the tree can’t even grow leaves, let alone fruit.
Anyway, so the fruit grows, but how does it grow. Well, again, to be simplistic, it grows — in part —because of the nutrients that come through the roots, up the trunk, and into the branches. So, the fruit doesn’t magically appear. There’s a cause. So, we want to figure out what feeds the fruit in our lives. Where does it come from?
Again, please understand that there’s no Bible passage that says “you do what you do and say what you say because you (fill in the blank).” But we can see from multiple passages a spiritual and logical flow, and there’s at least one passage in particular that gets really specific.
Please consider the following questions as you try to work through this for yourself. Why do you eat chocolate ice cream? Why do you like roller coasters? Why do you cheat? Why do you love your kids? Why do you speak unkindly to your spouse? Why do you play the sports you do? Why did you sign up for that class? Why do you eat food? Why do you watch movies? Why do you take things that don’t belong to you?
Choose any one of those and think about it. Why do like or dislike roller coasters? Why do you eat ice cream?
Have you figured it out?
I know, this format is really hard to interact with, so let’s discuss one of the best passages that illustrates this concept. Let’s look at Genesis 3.
Okay, so Eve has just been tempted by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit, and verse six says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Let’s more backward through the passaged. What was Eve’s fruit? Well, she took the fruit, ate it, and gave some to her husband. Why did she do it? Well, the verse gives us three reasons:
Some of you may be thinking, she did it because of what she would get out of it. Maybe you think she did it because how it would make her feel. And I think those play into it. But I believe the most seminal answer is this . . . she wanted to.
Look at what it says, “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” She took the fruit because she desired it. It was pretty, it looked yummy, it would make her wise, and she wanted it.
My dad says all the time, “Everything you do, you do because you want to.” That goes for you, your spouse, your kids, the neighbors, the presidents, me, and everyone else.
In fact, this is so true, I can categorically say that you’ve never done anything you didn’t want to do.
And all of a sudden everyone driving their cars to work nearly drove off the road.
“What are you talking about, Aaron? Are you crazy? I do things I don’t want to do all the time!”
Well, hold on a minute. Take a breath. Engage your mind, and follow this illustration.
Let’s say I put a gun to your head and said, kick your dog or die. So, you weigh it out in your mind. I believe most of us would kick our dogs. We understand that what we sacrifice to stay alive isn’t worth as much as what we gain by staying alive.
Now, I know this is a ridiculous illustration, but bear with me. All of us could say, I didn’t want to kick my dog, but I had to. But unfortunately, that wouldn’t be true. You didn’t have to kick your dog. You kicked your dog because you wanted to kick your dog more than you wanted to die.
In situations like that, it’s a question of degrees. You may be driving to that job you despise because you want to work more than you want to be homeless. None of us like disciplining our children, but we really do want to discipline them because we know what will happen if we don’t.
You do what you do because you want to. You say what you say because you want to.
And this is so important to acknowledge because it strips us of the ability to say things like, “I’m a good person who makes mistakes.” or “He’s a good kid, he’s just in a phase.” or “He has a good heart.”
My friends, none of that is true. We overeat because we want to. We lie because we want to. We worry because we want to. We yell at our kids because we want to. We flirt with people who aren’t our spouse because we want to. We turn down our spouses advances because we want to. We get aggravated when our home doesn’t run the way we want it to because we want to.
We can’t say “The devil made me do it!” We made ourselves do it because we are not good people. Seriously, no one who actually desires to be unkind can be called a good person. Sin is not a disease. It’s not an accident. It’s not something that controls us against our will. Sin is a willful act against God that’s deserving of death.
Listen, there was only one good person Who ever lived and His name is Jesus. And that one good person came to this earth to bear the penalty of our sin. Any goodness we have, we have through Him, because even our best attempts are selfish and vile.
Now, it’s not too hard to agree that our children do what they do and say what they say because they want what they want. But we have to start with us if we hope to be able to help our children see this . . . and our children need to see this. But so do we.
Consider again Matthew 7:17-20. “Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” If there is bad fruit in your life it’s there because there’s something wrong with your tree. When I have bad fruit in my life it’s because I’m a bad tree.
My tree is bad because it wants to bear bad fruit. And the same is true for you and your kids.
The first sin occurred because Eve wanted to do it, and every sin that has come after it was born from the same thing . . . our desires.
If you’re still unconvinced, consider James 4. “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? [That’s what we do and say] Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
According to James we desire, covet, and have passions that bear the fruit in our lives.
So, is that it? Have we found the root of why we and our kids do what we do?That’s a good question.
For now, I can say that “we do what we do and say what we say because we want what we want.”
But we still need to ask the question, “Why do we want what we want?” in order to see if there’s another more basic reason we do what we do.
But let’s stop for now by making full circle. Jesus said we don’t obey because we don’t love Him. That’s true. But why don’t we love Him? Because we don’t want to. We’d rather love ourselves. And the same goes for our other family members.
If you’d like to review these passages and ideas, please check out our episode notes at TruthLoveParent.comAnd join us next time as we consider why do our kids feel what they feel? We still have to answer the “why do we want what we want?” question, but we first need to figure out where our emotions play into this whole doing-saying-desiring spectrum.
Have you reviewed us yet? We’d be so thankful if you’d give us a review on iTunes. You can find the instructions on how to do that at TruthLoveParent.com on our reviews tab.
I know, it’s uncomfortable being faced with the reality that I do bad parent behavior because I want to. But we need to be honest with ourselves and with the Scripture. But remember that the Truth sets us free. I believe when this study is over, your understanding of your relationship with God can be deepened further than you knew. And then you can take that understanding and wisely help your children learn it.
I’ll see you next time.
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