If your children frequently praise God for the events that happen each day, you can know that a good foundation for life is being built in their hearts. However, if you hear your children frequently complain or grumble, they are becoming a slave to their own desires. This means there is trouble ahead.
Sin feeds on the demand for immediate happiness and gratification. That is why a child can go from seeming bliss to outrage in an eye blink. One moment everything is fine. Then he sees his brother with a toy that he wants and he erupts with a howl that sounds like he is being tortured. Why? Because he doesn’t have what he wants, what he thinks he deserves. He believes he has a right to complain that life is not unfolding the way he thinks it should be.
God wants his people to live a life of praise. Complaining and grumbling are not compatible with praise. The Bible teaches that God is a faithful God who does no wrong, who is always to be praised. (Deuteronomy 32:3-5; Philippians 2:14-15; I Corinthians 10:9-10) Since God is always faithful, there is no room for grumbling and complaining.
Complaining is the opposite of praise. Praise is being aware of and motivated by God’s constant goodness and grace. Telling a child to stop complaining will not stop the advance of this corrosive sin. Only praise and gratitude to God for his faithfulness can do that. Your focus as a parent is teaching your children to replace complaining with praise. This means living out the gospel in gratitude for to grace of God in your life so that your children see and experience praise as part of your daily walk with God.
You are commanded to praise because if you do not praise you revert to your natural desires, you complain. Here is a challenging question. Do your kids hear you complain about them more than they hear you praising God?
Just as you teach your children not to yell or to put others first or to come quickly when called; you must also teach them to praise. Do you regularly praise God for a safe trip to the store or for sleep? You must teach by example as well as by word. Praise is not any more natural for your children than it is for you.
You do not know when God will work in your child’s heart to turn his obedience to you into the genuine obedience that comes from a new heart. In faithfulness you must lovingly encourage all that God has commanded, including the praise of his goodness, trusting that he will use these confrontations to bring your child to Christ.
Praise is the attitude that must replace complaining. Ask God to work that first in you and then in your children. Make the praise of God a way of life!
This post originally appeared on the Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.