I Samuel 16:7: “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NIV)
My kids are always joking that when I eventually die (hopefully not for a long, long time), they will remember me as someone who loved coffee. One of our daughter’s first words was “Iced Mocha.” However, as much as I don’t mind being remembered for how much I love coffee (and I do), I want them to remember more one important message: I care more about the condition of their heart than I do their actions.
One message that my husband and I repeatedly talk about in our house is the reason behind what is done. We know our kids will make mistakes, and they know that. We tell them repeatedly that we don’t want perfect children – who would? I need a little more adventure in life than that. What we do want is integrity and our kids working toward having the right heart attitude.
We realize that being caught in disobedience is not a fun place to be. Our kids are starting to realize they will get off the hook much easier when they own their mistake, do what they can to make it right, and then we all move on. They will have a much tougher and longer consequence if we are addressing not just the mistake but a bad heart attitude as well. Then there will be consequences for both the original offense and the offense of trying to cover it up or put the blame on someone else. Sometimes, to their surprise, if they own up to their fault in the beginning, they will have no consequence at all.
That’s the way my husband and I try to live our lives. We’re not perfect either and we try not to pretend that we are. When we make a mistake, we admit our fault. We take responsibility for our part and do what we can to make it right, again, not always perfectly. That is what we feel God calls us to do, and therefore, it is important to us that our children learn that lesson now instead of later.
Admitting your wrong is uncomfortable. It’s definitely not what society teaches. It’s easier to pass the blame to someone else, usually an innocent victim, or come up with lots of reasons to validate why a particular action was necessary. Some people have a true gift of putting some sort of spin on their deed to make it seem almost a crime not to have made that decision.
I would rather tell the truth. I would rather teach my kids to tell the truth, not just when it’s easy but especially when it’s hard. Even if it means someone will be mad at them. Even if means there is a consequence to pay. I answer to only One and He can see my heart all the time – whether I hide it from others or expose it out in the open. Because of that, I can only have real peace when I’m living the truth all the time. It’s not always easy, but it’s the best way. That is what I hope my children remember about me – that the condition of the heart is more important than my actions, even if they picture me saying it with a cup of coffee in my hand.