What is teaching and parenting all about? This article shows that parents and teachers are called to reflect the restoring and redeeming character of Christ to their children.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2006. 3 pages.

The Redeeming Parent and Teacher

And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

Ezekiel 16:6

God in Christ is the great Redeemer. He is the ultimate example. Jesus is the Redeemer par excellence. When the Lord first views one of His children, what does He see? A well-behaved, upright, honest, clean, and desirable child? No, the very opposite! This child is terribly dirty, polluted, and guilty.

When Jesus sees this person’s lost and filthy con­dition, what is His response? To turn away? To avoid getting near such a dirty one? To write him or her off as hopelessly lost? No, the very opposite. Christ is the great Good Samaritan. He stops, draws near, and speaks to such a polluted person. And when Jesus speaks to him, what does He say? “You filthy one, this is the result of despising my instruction”? Or, “Look at you — polluted from head to foot — did I not warn you?” Or, “You are hopeless — I give up on you; you are now on your own”? Is this how Jesus responds? No, the very opposite. He speaks words of life, not death; words of hope, not of despair. He says, “Live!”

Notice that the Great Redeemer does not stop, draw near, and say “Live” to this dirty, sinful person after he has repented or after she has cleaned up her life. The redeeming attitude, words, and actions arise from pure, free, and sovereign grace. No worthiness is first rec­ognized in the sinner. This truth is highlighted three times in Ezekiel 16:6. Jesus Christ said, “Live,” when He “saw thee polluted in thine own blood,” and “when thou wast in thy blood,” and again, “when thou wast in thy blood.”

As Christian parents or teachers, we are called to reflect something of Christ’s gracious and redeeming attitudes, words, and actions. Parents, what attitude permeates how you speak and act toward your teen­age son, who again has gone his own way and lies in the disaster of his own doing? Yes, he lies in his own guilt. Teachers, how do you respond to the student who has deliberately disobeyed you again and sits in the mess of her own making? How do we think about our child? How do we speak to him or her? How do we act toward such students? Do we avoid them? Do we write them off as hopeless? Do we give up on them because it’s their own fault? Do we say, “They’re teens now, not babies, and they should know better”? Or, “This isn’t the first time that she’s done this, you know”? Or, “He made his own bed and now he can sleep in it”?

What would the result have been if the Great Redeemer responded to us like this? What would have happened if He had given up on us when He saw us lying in our own blood of filthiness and guilt? There­fore, dear parents and teachers, I ask you in love to carefully examine your attitude at such challenging times. When we see one of our children or students “polluted in the blood” of his own sinful, rebellious actions, do we pull away from or draw closer to him? Do we talk more about him or to him? Do our actions reflect more of an attitude that he is hopeless or that in Christ Jesus there is hope? Do we speak words of death or words of life? Certainly, we must discipline our children and students. There are times that we are called to be firm. We may not approve of that which is sinful. But the focus here is, how do we do this. Is our attitude one that views our child or stu­dent as hopeless and worthless or do we view our child or student with hopeful expectation, as someone of redeemable value? Our attitudes create significant differences in how we think, speak, and act. Our child or student will observe and feel this difference.

The following classic poem by Myra Welch beauti­fully illustrates this truth:

The Touch of the Master’s Hand🔗

Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile;

'What am I bid, good folks,' he cried,
'Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar — one dollar — now two, only two ­—
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
Going for three' — but no!
From the room far back a grey-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow.
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening up all the strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, 'Now what am I bid for the old violin?'
And he held it up with the bow.
'A thousand dollars — and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once — three thousand twice­ —
And going — gone!' said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
'We do not quite understand.
'What changed its worth?'
Quick came the reply,
'The touch of the Master’s hand.'

And many a man with life out of tune
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A 'mess of pottage' — a glass of wine,
A game — and he travels on:
He’s going once — and almost gone!
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

Whatever the Great Master, Jesus Christ, touches, He quickens, redeems, and restores. As parents or teachers, are our touches more condemning or redeeming? Are our words more demolishing or restoring? Are our actions more destructive or constructive? Are our atti­tudes more focused on the symptoms of the disease or the healing of the disease? The answer to these questions can be found in the understandings of our most challenging children or students. If we would ask them, would they respond, “This parent or teacher thought of me as a messed-up, dirty, out of tune, worthless vio­lin?” Or would they say, “In all my confusion, rebellion, dirtiness, being far out of tune, my Mom, my Dad, my teacher, saw me as redeemable, as a valuable instru­ment that God could restore, as one of infinite value”? And if we would ask such a child or student, how did you know this? He or she would answer, “I could tell from how my parent or teacher talked to me and acted toward me.”

Are you a restoring parent, a redeeming teacher?

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