GOOD GRIEF: Seven Steps to Embracing Emotions- #3 The Heart of the Matter

Being good is not the same as being godly. “They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders . . . They do all their deeds to be seen by people,” Matthew 23:4-5a  In verse 15 Jesus exhorts, ““Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves!” 

Do we settle for obedience even when we know it is done with an angry belligerent heart? If we are satisfied with obedience even when attitudes are wrong we have resorted to the tactics of the pharisees and obedience has become our end game.

“Obedience is better than sacrifice;” Jesus clarifies this truth for us by teaching us that love is to be the attitude behind obedience. In His final walk with His disciples He gave them a new commandment. “Love one another as I have loved you.” In John chapter 14:20 He says, “The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me.”

Jesus put love, an emotion, together with obedience, an action. Obedience is true when it is powered by love and love is effective and complete when it produces obedience. If a child is not obeying, ask yourself what is going on in their hearts. Children don’t always have the words to tell us their heart is hurting. 

Catherine McCall MS. LMFT in "Psychology Today"  writes“. . . we need our parents to provide another aspect of love: we need them to say "no" to our dependence, to assert their boundaries, and to encourage our individual development. It's their job to teach us to obey, and in their doing so we again experience a sense of loss. When our parents tell us "no," our experience of bliss with them dissolves, and we enter into a struggle with them instead, which is often tough on each side – just ask the parent of any two-year-old! During this struggle we gain awareness of our limits as well as those of others. A two-year old asserting "NO!" is learning that she also has a will of her own. Children need to be allowed to express natural emotions in age-appropriate ways and with respect, and they need us, in our responses, to show them unconditional love. Only when they're permitted and encouraged to express natural andger for instance, can they move on and readily allow forgiveness to express itself. With loss comes struggle; with loss comes gain; with loss comes the possibility of personal growth.

. . .  a child who is dealing with loss has many of the same feelings and needs that we do, but because she is a child, she has far fewer resources and abilities to cope with her feelings than we have. It's up to us to provide them for her. And there is no shame in needing help with that.”

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."