There’s a phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot from my daughters lately— “It’s so hard to obey.” Almost every time we discipline them and correct them about their behavior and what their behavior reveals about their hearts, this is what they would tell us.
In all honesty, I’d have to say that I can totally relate with them in this regard. It is hard to obey. It goes against our flesh. If it were easy, Jesus didn’t have to take our place on that cross. If we can do it on our own, we wouldn’t need a savior to help us.
In a sense, I am relieved that my children have this sense of hopelessness when it comes to relying on their own will power and strength to obey. This gives us an opportunity to share with them and point them to the hope that they have in Christ. Instead of telling them to “get over it”, this is actually a good time to validate how they feel— that it is hard to obey if our obedience was entirely up to us.
But of course we don’t end there. Now will be the perfect time to remind them of how much we need God’s grace and that is it not entirely up to us anymore. Now will be the perfect time to remind them that apart from the grace of God, we are all incapable of doing the right thing– of doing what will please and honor God. Yet the good news is that the Bible promises us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Realizing God’s grace is the very thing that causes us to respond differently to the “it’s so hard, I can’t do it” feeling we so often get. Instead of concluding, “See? Even mommy and daddy agree with me. I can’t do it! It’s too hard to obey! Why bother trying??“, this grace causes us to turn to him and invites us to throw ourselves into His mercy. Instead of responding by just giving up, we now have hope that we can overcome because we now realize that it has always been His grace that has empowered us to obey all along.
During the times that we feel it’s so easy to obey, that’s His grace right there, working in us. During the times that we feel it’s extremely hard to obey, it’s the same grace that is at work in us. And because it’s the same grace, we know we are able to do what we ought to (or not do what we ought not to), in spite of us.
This is one of the reasons why I believe in discipline. It gives our children their much-needed reality check. It shows them how unattainable fulfilling the law is and teaches them precisely why they need a Rescuer to save them from themselves. I actually want them to come to the point of realizing and admitting that “it is hard to obey“—-and to come to the conclusion that “the only way for me to be able to overcome is to completely and constantly rely on God.”