Decidedly Academic. Distinctively Christian.
Written by Steve Dubransky, Counseling & Care Minister at Foothill Church
When I hear the words, “she hit me,” or “he took the ball from me again,” or when I am startled by the sudden yelling that indicates there’s a fight ready to break out between my kids, I can’t help but ask why. In fact, one of the most common questions I ask my kids in these moments is “why did you do that?” They often don’t know the answer, but I remind them that the Bible does. In James 4:1-2, it says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
Don’t you just love the practicality of this passage? I have asked that exact question countless times. There is so much to take in from this passage, but one thing is clear: selfishness is a very rampant problem, and it is at the root of every relational breakdown that happens. Look back at verse 1, the cause of our fights and quarrels are the passions that are at war with me. This means that when there is something that I want so badly and don’t get it, I will either sin to get it or sin because I didn’t.
Most of the time, this sinning is done through our speech, actions and feelings towards others. And what often happens is that we see the other person as a barrier to getting what we want rather than a person to love. So instead of addressing our own selfish desires and thinking through how we can serve others better, we blame them, saying things like, “If you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have said what I said,” or “It’s all his fault, He made me do it,” or the most common response in my house is, “She did it first!”
We must help our students realize that the problem is deeper than someone else; it is within them. It is about their desires. Yes, it is true, people are mean sometimes, and people hurt us, but the proper response isn’t to quarrel or fight. We definitely don’t want our kids to hit, yell, lie, gossip and steal, so we must correct these behaviors, but ultimately this is going to take the hard work of addressing our kid’s hearts and their wants and desires, and how they will respond when they don’t get it. Otherwise, our kids will continue to blame their past, their siblings, the mean kid at school, the weather, or anything else they can think of, which can ultimately lead to bias, bigotry, racism, and even murder.
Fortunately, Jesus provides hope for curing a selfish and sinful heart. He died to give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27) and to make us new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) that is able to respond differently. In light of the gospel, our kids can take responsibility for their part in the breakdown of relationships and stop blaming others instead. This requires diligently searching God’s Word for how to respond in God-honoring ways in the future. It contains great hope and real help!