Are You Using Jesus’ Name in Vain?

Now we’ve all heard about in the Old Testament using God’s name in vain, but how do families use Jesus’s name in vain? There’s a little pet peeve of mine, but it sounds like this, your four year old smacks your three-year-old across the face and you’re like, “Honey, you just really hurt Jesus right there. That hurts Jesus. Jesus is really upset. Jesus is actually crying right now.” When you use Jesus’s like that… And every time you use something negative happens, or we need to correct or call your child to repentance your four year old pagan who really doesn’t believe the gospel, you use Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Then oftentimes what happens is that a negative association or a religious association is made between their actions and Jesus.

Okay. This is very understandable why this is done. And this is why I want to talk for a minute about it. There’s a principle in the Bible that’s really important. And it’s from Isaiah 6. And then, Jesus talks about it in Matthew 13. And that is you do not preach the truth to a hard heart. Preaching truth to a hard heart, makes that heart actually harder, not softer. And so when you speak the truth is incredibly important if you want to win your kids’ hearts. And if you speak truth to them, your deepest most precious pearls in the moments when your kids are most upset, most frustrated, and most resistant, guess what’s going to happen? They are going to associate all of those incredibly important ideas with the negative experiences or the controlling kinds of authority conflicts that they’re having with you. And that is not what you want to do.

There’s nothing more important, you guys, than our children embracing the gospel. Our kids need to trust Jesus and love Jesus. And so, I want to protect that as much as possible. So if my kids are really struggling with something, I want to talk about the truth about why that hurts relationships, why that is wrong. And I want to be careful that I say very little in terms of teaching, lecturing, et cetera, to my kids while they’re resistant. And then, I want you to really work through the situation. And then, when my child is soft, is open, is willing to sit down, is calm, then we can have a very reasoned conversation about why that’s a problem. But in the moment to throw a bunch of religious language at them, when they’re most upset, most resistant, which is very common in Christian families, I think that’s just sort of a strategic mistake that the Bible actually talks specifically about.

This is why Jesus constantly said to him who has ears to hear, let them hear. The ears to hear is so important. The Holy Spirit needs to be working on the heart and the child needs to be open and their spirit needs to be willing in order for them to actually receive the truth that you want to give them. But yeah, Jeff, how have you guys encountered it? Because it’s tough when you’re trying to raise kids.

Totally. It’s funny. With our oldest, I feel like we had to learn this one, the hard way. Because that’s even my personality with Alyssa and anyone, I want to just hash it out right in the moment, but that just doesn’t go well, especially with an emotionally driven kid. And so, over and over again, we had to learn like, man, we had to come to a totally new process. Which is exactly what you said, our process now, once I can see the emotional level ratcheting up to the point where I go, “Okay, this is no longer going to be like helpful to anyone or beneficial to anyone to have a conversation in this moment.” Then, it’s actually helpful, but I almost switch gears then to just like still being firm on the discipline or say, “Hey, well, we still need to do X, Y, and Z.” But I almost go super soft, just like, “Hey, I love you. I’m so thankful for you. And I know this isn’t easy and this isn’t hard, but I’ll see you in a little bit, or we’ll talk about this later.” Or there’s something about it where it actually helped me, too, helped me not ratchet up with it.

But then on top of that gives you a little emotional distance, which then allows you to be really soft. And then it just realizes from an efficient standpoint. Then, I’ve just realized the conversations are so much better when their heart is ready and that matters. And that really matters. Now, I don’t think this means that you change like how you’re disciplining, right? But I think, yeah, very careful with your language. And I think very careful with your tone and then it’s just follow up conversations. I think a lot of us, we want to kind of solve it, but you got to have some space and time.

And this is another thing, too. I think this also goes to show too, with little kids, you really have to create space and time because that’s what you need for these type of moments, right? If you’re running kids all the way around at young ages to just the schedule is just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. They’ll just get overwhelmed. And then, you also have no space and time to kind of nurture this. But when you do that, when you give that space and time, then you really do have those times to let it be what it is, let it calm down, and then have a really good conversation with them.

Just one thing I want to emphasize, too. What you said, Jeff, I think the reason why we want to use a lot of this language and we don’t realize it is that we don’t want to have the responsibility to having that follow up conversation. I think this is subtle. But especially for dads, I think this is, we want to get it over with. We’re angry. We feel like I shouldn’t have to deal with this anyway. And so, you want to deal with it all in that moment. And so it takes a ton of intentionality to an hour later, two hours later, five hours later, when you have teenagers sometimes a day, two days later to sit down at 10:30 at night and say, “Hey, two days ago, let’s walk through what happened. I want to talk to you about this. Why did you do that? What happened there?” That requires a lot of discipline as a dad or as a mom to really try to bring back that intentional follow through conversation. So, but that’s important if you guys really want to win the hearts of your kids, then be really careful in those tense moments to say less. And then in those soft moments to have a really meaningful dialogue.

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