Parenting Prodigals and Pharisees

Prodigals and pharisees are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Most kids (and most adults) fall somewhere in between, having a mixture of both in their hearts.

Prodigals - Those who run, do not follow the rules, reject wise council, and whose sin is on display for the world to see.

Pharisees - These rule-followers appear to have it all together and usually receive the praise of others. In His day, Jesus declared that the religious leaders, who were known as pharisees, were merely "white-washed tombs" who were "beautiful on the outside but on the inside [were] full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean" (Matt 23:27-28).

The reality is that both types of people desperately need the grace of Jesus Christ.

Prodigals need to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus who paid for their every sin and evil deed.

Pharisees need to repent of every good deed done to earn God's favor, as well as for the sin which lies beneath the surface. Nothing but the death and resurrection of Christ earns God's favor.

Two Profound Implications for Parenting

  1. Before even trying to instruct their children, parents must examine their own hearts. If they are not dazzled by the love of Jesus themselves, they will not be able to help their children see their need for Jesus.

  2. Even from an early age children naturally assume that if their parents are pleased with them, then God must be also. Parents must be aware of this and carefully explain the following:
Obedience and discipline are very important to God, but even if you obey every rule it does not mean that God is pleased with you. Following rules cannot make people righteous. It is only the Rescuer who can make you righteous. Without Him all our good deeds are like filthy rags, but if we trust Jesus, He will take away our filthy rags and dress us in His righteousness.
Give Them Grace

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