Eliza, our almost-3-year-old daughter is experimenting with being a big sister to Liam, her 11 month old brother. Most of this experimenting is harmless. Some of it gets rough.
One of the things she really seems to enjoy doing is pushing him to the ground. She knows this earns her a time out. After time out is over, we talk about what happened and why. Eliza typically identifies the errant behavior.
Yesterday, following a time out in the afternoon, she went a step further. She told me what she had done, and that she knew she should not do that to “baby Liam.” Then, as she walked away, she said, “and I’ll never do it again.”
I fought laughing out loud. I appreciate the sweet good intentions of our daughter, and imagine that for all intents and purposes she meant what she said in the moment she said it.
Yet, I fully expect her to do it again sometime. This is part of the nature of being a two year old.
Within seconds I made the same realization that you are making now; I have said the same thing, countless times, after doing something wrong. In the moment I feel fully remorseful and absolutely committed to never doing that again.
Sometimes I even make a promise to God that I won’t do it again. Ever.
Hopefully, now you are having the additional realization that I had the next moment.
Being no longer a 2 year old, I really ought to be, and expect to be, able to make such promises and commitments and keep them.
We are, after all, more mature than two year olds, right?
Too many of us Christians have bought into the understanding of sin and depravity that lets us all off the hook of ever getting better in our behavior. Sadly, we have sometimes taken this the extreme of laughing off efforts to reform our behavior with thoughts of “that’s what God’s grace is for.”
If you are satisfied with the maturity level of a 2 year old, keep on letting yourself off the hook with that one. If, however, you are of a mind to think that perhaps a person of your age could learn to control his or her behavior, then maybe now is the time to start letting that grace we are offered by God do the work in us that God intends it to do.
Is there something in your life that you should never do again? Would changing that behavior help your efforts to follow Jesus?
Pick one; try it. If you need help (and most of us will), that’s what church is for!
Let’s all grow up a little this week.