Sermon Illustrations

Father Teaches Disobedient Daughter About Grace and Consequences

I’ve given you all the acronym before of “GRACE- God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”

I’ll always remember a daddy-daughter moment with my oldest girl when she was maybe three years old. We raised our girls with loving discipline which included an occasional spanking. We didn’t enjoy it obviously, but we did reserve it for the last resort. We would spank our kids for acts of defiance and rebellion when it was clear that they knew what they were doing and perhaps they were “testing” Mom and Dad just to see if they could rule the house.

I don’t remember what it was she did, but she decided to test the system one night and make a bid to take over. Something we had counseled her on over and over-time out, go to your room, no videos-all the standard punishments had simply not reached the case. I knew it was time for the spanking.

I went in to talk to her that night with my little paint-stirrer paddle in hand. It was essentially a large popsicle stick! It might crush a mosquito if you really press down hard, but to Stacia it represented cruel war club and was the dreaded instrument of discipline.

I asked her “sweetheart, do you know why I’m here?” We went through the short conversation about crime and punishment and she fully understood why I was there to spank her. I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice not just a fear of punishment or the “I’m sorry I got caught.” I could sense, as her Daddy that something had clicked and she understood this on a deep level. She really was repentant and understood what she did wrong, and best I could tell as a Daddy she had it in her heart not to do that again.

I let a pregnant pause go for maybe thirty seconds; she probably thought it was three hours! I looked at her and I looked at the paddle. I told her “Sweetie, let’s have a talk about grace. This is a good time to understand something about God. I then told her how that God doesn’t give us what we deserve-and I proceeded to preach the children’s condensed version of what I’m doing for you today.

At the end of my mini-sermon (and she was hanging on every word) I said “Honey, I really think God wants me to show you grace this time. I think you’ve learned your lesson already. Her eyes got big and you could feel RELIEF sweep through that kid’s room like the wind! I hugged and kissed her and we prayed as we did every night, and the matter was closed. She was asleep before I could make it to the other end of the house.

A few weeks later, something similar arose. She had really tested me again, and it was time for another counseling session. I proceeded to her room that evening in the same fashion, paint stick in hand. I wondered if she remembered the last talk we had. After some introduction and explanation of what was about to happen, I said “Sweetheart, what do you think Daddy should do with something like this?”

“Well, Daddy-do you think we could try the grace again?”

It was all I could do to choke back laughter. She was so cute and so sincere. I loved this kid so much I would die for her and never bat an eye or even have to think about it. But I loved her too much to give her a warped view of reality and the principle of sowing and reaping. This was actually as much a holy moment as the first. It gave me an opening to present the other side of the coin-that we cannot presume upon Grace. If we do that with God-He will know and really it’s just making God’s grace seem like it’s our idea, or our toy to play with and use as we need it. I saw the lights come on just like before.

The larger word I’ll use with you –PRESUMING upon God’s grace. Hey, it’s always there, it will always be there. I know I shouldn’t but I’m covered…God will understand and he’ll be ok with it because hey GRACE…right?

I also saw that she really had listened the last time. I went into another brief mini-sermon that ended with an altar call that sounded like WHACK! Three swats right across the buttocks. The ending was –see above. Hugs and kisses and prayer, wipe away the tears and the slate is clean.

It’s one of my favorite stories of raising my kids! But you know I don’t think the story or the lesson would have been complete without both segments and both outcomes.

From a sermon by John Jones, The Grace Gap, 11/5/2009

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