I am in the midst of Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself Bible study. This week is on kindness and goodness. Yesterday, I read about God's loving kindness to His people Israel and to us and how He so often expresses that kindness in terms of a loving parent. It's a beautiful picture that inspires me to be a more aware of God's Fatherhood and to be a better parent to my girls.
In the back of my mind the verse about the kindness of God leading us toward repentance kept playing in my head. I looked up the verse and it says, "Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" Rom. 2:4 (ESV) God does not force us to repent. He doesn't shame us to repentance (although He most definitely does convict!). He doesn't nag us to repent. He gently draws us to a place of heart change through kindness.
And I thought about my parenting. Am I trying to bring about heart change in my children using methods that can only change their behavior but not their hearts? Nagging, threatening, yelling, and punishing might bring about the behavior I'm hoping for, but my children's hearts won't be more tender toward God or more obedient to me because I do those things. I realize that I need to use kindness to motivate my children to want to obey. I need to use kindness to draw their hearts to me and to God. This doesn't let me off the hook when it comes to discipline. Leniency is not kindness!
So I'm asking God to give me creative ways to show godly kindness to my girls. It will reap rewards in all our lives.