A few years ago, my wife and I took our children on a special vacation to Disney World. If you are familiar with amusement parks and parking, then you can appreciate the situation. It is was over half way into our vacation week. We visited Epcot. Each day we parked our rental car and head to the parking lot tram for the ride to the park. Every time you get on the tram, the driver reminds you to that you are parked in row “Goofy” or “Mickey.” Some Disney character and parking spot number. But this particular day we arrived at the park early and happened upon a great parking spot near the front section of parking. It was close enough to walk to the entrance of the park.
We enjoy the day and are exhausted by the end of the day. You are at Disney, so you push through and spend as much time in the park as possible. So, when we left the park exhausted, we hopped on the tram for the ride back to the car. We get out at our stop, and our car is gone. I’m walking through with the clicker in the air trying to get the car to beep. Mind you this is a rental car, and nearly half the other cars looked the same. We walked up and down countless rows of cars. No luck. We are all exhausted, so I go on searching and tell my wife and kid’s to rest. Next thing I know my exhausted crew show up with an abandoned wheelchair to aid me in my search.
Then it dawns on me. That day we never took the tram, and we were close enough to walk into the park that day. I had to swallow my pride and admit that I lost the car. Not that is wasn’t obvious.
In that moment, I felt like I was out of the running for “Parent of the Year.” In that moment, there was much more I could have done to handle the situation.
I want to be a great parent. I want to parent the right way…and sometimes I don’t.
I am sure there are times when you have felt the same way! Let’s be honest, we all want to parent the right way…and sometimes we don’t.
What is the right way? How do we parent…right?
Who better to learn from, than God…Our Creator.
Turn with me to Psalm 103:8-14…
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)
Verse 8-The Lord is merciful and gracious…
The Psalmist is quoting Exodus 34:6-7…
The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation. (Exodus 34:6-7, NIV)
By quoting Exodus 34:6-7, He restates four distinct characteristics about God:
1. He is slow to anger,
2. Bears long with those that are very provoking,
3. Defers punishing, that he may give space to repent, and
4. Does not speedily execute the sentence of his law.
Slow to anger… That is, patient; not soon excited; bearing much, and bearing it long.
In James 5:11 reminds, As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Verse 9- He will not always chide…
Chiding means rebuking, He will not always contend with people, or manifest his displeasure.
Isaiah 57:16- I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me— the very people I have created.
Psalm 78:38-39- Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
This implies that He rebukes His people, but it will not be forever. He will punish them; He will manifest His displeasure at their sins; He will show that He does not approve of their course of action, but He will show that He “loves them,” and does not seek their ruin.
Neither will he keep his anger forever… He will not stay angry. It is not in His character to stay angry just to be angry.
Verse 10- He does not deal with us according to our sins… This when we shout His praises! We deserve to be punished because we are sinners.
Nor repay us according to our iniquities… This means He has not inflicted suffering on us as a penalty for what we have done.
Verse 11- For as the heaven is high above the earth…
Psalm 57:10- For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Isaiah 55:9- As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The translation of the phrase here is … “For like the height of the heavens above the earth.” The heavens…the starry heavens…are the highest objects we have any knowledge or comprehension of. The comparison is used to signify the great mercy of God. We cannot imagine His great mercy could be even greater. We cannot imagine anything higher than the heavens.
So great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him… Fearing is reverence out of us being in awe of who God is. When we approach God in reverence and serve him… His mercy is great in forgiving our sin. He imparts His grace to whoever fears Him.
Verse 12- As far as the east is from the west…
This is as far as we can imagine. These two points are the most distant points we can conceive. This means we cannot imagine how our sins could be further removed than they are. The meaning in Hebrew is, “like the distance of the east from the west” or, “like its being far.”
So far does he remove our transgressions from us… This means He has placed our wrongs, our sins, entirely away. They are so far removed that they cannot affect us any longer. We are safe from all condemnation for our sins as if they had not been committed at all.
Isaiah 43:25- He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
Isaiah 44:22- I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Psalm 103:9-12, illustrate the truth of verse 8. God’s compassion is clear in that He does not constantly accuse or antagonize us, even though we constantly sin.
Eph. 6:4- Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
He is slow to anger, and He does not maintain His anger continually. His gracious character is obvious in that He does not punish us for our sins immediately or completely, as we deserve. He does not pay us back what we deserve either. His love with those who fear Him is as limitless as the sky. Furthermore, He separates the guilt of our sins from us completely.
Rom. 8:1- Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
If someone travels north or south, he finally arrives at a pole from which He can proceed no farther north or south. However, if someone travels east or west, He never reaches such a point.
God did not say He forgives (or removes) our sins as far as the north is from the south, but as far as the east is from the west… infinity distance.
Verse 13-As a father shows compassion to his children… “Like the compassion of a father for his children.”
Matthew 7:7-11- Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
God often compares Himself with a father, and it is by carrying out our ideas of what enters into the parental character that we get our best understanding of the character of God.
It is the natural affection of the parent for the child; the tender love which is born by the parent for His offspring; the disposition to care for its needs; the readiness to forgive when an offense has been committed.
Luke 15:22-24- But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Such, in an infinitely higher degree, is the compassion… the kindness… which God has for those that love Him.
So the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him… He has compassion on them. He exercises toward them the paternal feeling.
Verse 14-For he knows our frame… Our formation; of what we are made; how we are made. That is, He knows that we are made of dust; that we are frail; that we are subject to decay; that we soon sink under a heavy load. This is given as a reason why he pities us – that we are so frail and feeble, and that we are so easily broken down by a pressure of trial.
He remembers that we are dust…We are made from the earth.
Genesis 2:7- Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.
Genesis 3:19- By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
When God interacts with us He does not forget that we are but frail materials. He made us, and He knows what little weight we can handle. His compassion tempers His dealings with us not to crush us. Remembering, too, our weakness, He interposes by His power to sustain us, and to enable us to bear what our frame could not otherwise endure.
Isaiah 57:16- I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me—the very people I have created.
In Psalm 103:13-18, we are reminded that God’s compassion is father-like in that He is mindful of our limitations. “He knows us even better than we know ourselves.”
Parenting right means parenting with COMPASSION, LOVE, and FORGIVENESS.
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)
Parents it begins with you… Remember the “The Shama”? Deuteronomy 6:4-7-Love God and get it inside yourself first, then get it inside your children…
This reminds me of a story about Benjamin West…
Benjamin West was just trying to be a good babysitter for his little sister Sally. While his mother was out, Benjamin found some bottles of colored ink and proceeded to paint Sally’s portrait. But by the time Mrs. West returned, ink blots stained the table, chairs, and floor. Benjamin’s mother surveyed the mess without a word until she saw the picture. Picking it up, she exclaimed, “Why, it’s Sally!” And she bent down and kissed her young son.
In 1763, when he was 25 years old, Benjamin West was selected as history painter to England’s King George III. He became one of the most celebrated artists of his day. Commenting on his start as an artist, he said, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.” Her encouragement did far more than a rebuke ever could have done. (A Mother’s Kiss, Our Daily Bread, May 17, 1996)
Imagine what if…you parented with compassion, love, and forgiveness.
I want to leave you with some practical ways to parent with compassion, love, and forgiveness by creating A.W.E. in your home. A.W.E. stands for Affection, Warmth, and Encouragement and found in the book 10 Building Blocks For A Solid Family, by Dr. Jim Burns and www.homeword.com. In Hebrews 3:13 we are reminded to, encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
When The Burn’s children were young, he and his wife, Cathy created a daily “A.W.E. To-Do List”. They used it as a guide to intentionally create an environment of affection, warmth, and encouragement that fostered a sense of security and love for their children.
Create “A.W.E.” in your home by saying “I love you”. Tell your children every day that you love them. “The positive reinforcement and verbal reminder of unconditional love will give your children the ability to go on even during tough times and it will help them say no to temptation.”
Second, is to show appropriate “physical affection”, through appropriate and meaningful touches, hugs, kisses, and high fives. “A real sense of security, self-worth and meaning comes from appropriate affection.”
The third to-do on the list is to “listen”. “When your kids know you are really listening to them, they will sense how significant they are to you. Listening is the language of love.”
Fourth, is to use “eye contact“. Many times parents get so busy they forget the importance of body language. When parents make eye contact with their children, they let them know that they really do care. “With our eyes focused on them, we can show our hearts are focused on them as well.”
The last to-do for creating “A.W.E.” in your home is “pray daily“. Praying daily with and for your children will help them see how important God in your own life. “Prayer time should be a warm, wonderful, loving part of our children’s lives.”
It is not easy to intentionally create an environment of “A.W.E.” in your home.
(https://homeword.com/devotionals/the-a-w-e-to-do-list, by Jim Burns, May 2, 2016)
What would your parenting look like if you followed this to-do list?
Let us commit to follow our Heavenly Father’s perfect example and parent with compassion, love, and forgiveness.