Posted by: fatherof11 | May 23, 2008

Let Love Cover

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Pro 10:12 ESV)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1Pe 4:8 ESV)

These two verses are particularly important for parenting older adopted children, and probably two of the most neglected. As parents it is our job to help shape the character of our children. Part of this shaping process is the confrontation of sin in their lives.

With a biological child this is a slow, gradual process. There is a fairly typical pattern to the way children introduce new sins into their repertoire. And though we should take no comfort from the fact that our child is sinning on schedule, if we do our jobs rightly, we are unlikely to face a large array of obvious sins at once. As new sins are added they can be confronted and dealt with. And though we will not have eliminated these sins from their lives we can train them to keep the worst manifestations of them in check. Of course we need to work on the heart at the same time, confronting them with the demands of the gospel, for no external training can truly remove sin from their lives.

An older adopted child has not usually had such training. Even worse, he may have actively been trained in some sinful behaviors. So how then are we to respond? First we should realize that the long term goal is the same as with a biological child. That is to train them towards godly living while working on the hearts by living and proclaiming the gospel in their presence.

But we must be careful. To confront all of their sins at once, will embitter and frustrate them and exhaust us. This is where the two verses that we started with come in. Not all sin needs to be confronted. The other option, particularly when the sin is against us, is to let love cover over the offense. This is not to say that we never confront their sin, but where possible we let the offense go, for their sake and for the sake of our relationship with them.

I don’t say this is easy, but it is a biblical option and I believe a necessity in these cases if we are not to embitter these children. What then does it mean to let love cover the sin? It means that we do not ever bring it up to hurt them. It means not holding a grudge, not talking about it to others and generally treating them as if the sin had never occurred. The only occasion we might bring it up later is when it is part of a pattern of sin and we have decided to confront that sin generally.

Thus, what I am suggesting is that parents should pick a few sins to work on. Generally I would say start with those that most affect the relationships between the children and others in the family. Work on these to the exclusion of others and let love cover over the rest.

When you do this I think you will see two results. First, the child will not be overwhelmed with too much change at once. Second, you will find that as one set of sins is dealt with, change in other areas become easier. Most of us have one or two primary roots to our sins. These usually manifest themselves in many different ways. However, dealing with them in one area, will often bring movement in other areas as well.

In all of this, though, the greatest benefit you may see is that you will be modeling the gospel in your own lives. The natural man does not have the power nor the desire to act in this way. Such a love comes from a relationship with Christ and your life will give credibility to the words of the Gospel when you speak them.

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