“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says,” (James 1:22).
“Momma, no eat pee-doh!” I stopped fixing my hair and looked down at my toddler standing in the bathroom doorway. A chunk of green Play-Doh sat in the palm of her hand, which she held out toward my face to illustrate her point.
“That’s right, sweetheart. We don’t eat Play-Doh,” I confirmed. Wow, after months of hammering home this rule, it finally sunk in. I was proud and amused at the same time.
I’ve read parents need to reinforce a concept up to a dozen times before a child really owns it. That seems like a lot. But do grown-ups do any better?
After years of studying my Bible, the rules ought to stick by now. Yet I’m as rebellious as any toddler when it comes to following the Father’s guidelines. Sometimes it’s not convenient, popular, easy or—let’s face it—fun to do what he asks of me.
Can I imitate my daughter, clutch a temptation in my fist, lift it up to the Lord and say, “No! I won’t do it!” Simply because he said so—and he always knows best.
No! I will not let Satan get my marriage. I will apologize to my husband before my head hits the pillow tonight.
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold,” (Ephesians 4:26–27).
No! I will not spread that juicy bit of gossip I just heard.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” (Ephesians 4:29).
No! I will not hold a grudge. I will forgive that person who hurt me.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” (Ephesians 4:32).
And on and on through every situation in which my sin nature is pitted against God’s wisdom. Just as we moms set rules to protect our kids, God gives us the Bible to protect us, teach us, and bless us. Yes, his grace covers bad decisions. But good decisions are within our grasp if we humble ourselves to do what he says.
I unplugged my hair dryer and walked into the kitchen—where my girls sat grinding oyster cracker crumbs into their Play-Doh. Silly Mom didn’t predict we’d need a rule against that. So I heaved a sigh and grabbed the broom. At least they weren’t eating it, Lord.
I could almost hear him chuckling in reply. “Tell me about it, child. Been there, done that—with you.”