The #1 Kids’ Excuse of All Time and How to Beat it!

Blog He Made Me Do It“He made me do it!” Is perhaps the number one kid excuse of all time! I mean is there a better excuse? Is there a better way to deflect responsibility for our sin than blaming our actions on someone else? “I got mad because my teacher didn’t recognize me.” I snatched a cookie because you wouldn’t let me have a snack.” I.e. I sinned because of you!

Why It Doesn’t Work

The only problem with this thinking is that it is not biblical. God never holds other people responsible for our sin. Not even parents are judged for the sins of their kids (Ezk. 18:20). God holds us responsible for our actions. Regardless of the circumstances, our actions are always just that, our actions. We don’t sin because of someone else. We don’t sin because someone triggered all our defense mechanisms with one rude comment.  As Pastor Brad Bigney said, “That button was already there – the pressure only revealed it.” (p.151). We sin because we want to, because we love something more than God! Notice what James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”

Understanding The Real Problem

The very first of God’s ten commandments says, “You shall have no other God’s before me (Ex. 20:3).  To really understand how to only worship one God, we need to take a look at the very last commandment: “You shall not covet.”  These two commandments bookend the other 8 because the first one shows us what God requires of us and the last shows us how to achieve it. To worship God and God alone, we have to treasure him above all else. We can’t have idols in our heart. We can’t covet.

fall-651020_1920The reason we sin, the reason we snap when we don’t get our way is that we are coveting. We are worshiping something more than God. According to Colossians 3:5, covetousness is idolatry. Covetousness creates idols in our heart that replace God.  We look at the nude girl on the screen, we scream at our kids when they get too loud, and we rant on Facebook about our job because we are worshiping something other than God. We lust because we covet human companionship more than God. We scream because we covet a quiet house more than God. And, we rant because we love our success more than God.  Spiritual idols are not just limited to the generic category of sports, money, and fame. They are the daily things we want more than God. They are the things we sin to get or sin when we don’t get them. As Bigney says, “An idol is anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.”(p.41).

The Covetousness Cure

To not covet, we have to love God. And to love God, we have to avoid coveting. This is how we overcome sin. We daily focus upon worshiping God. And, we daily do battle in our hearts. We daily worship God and we daily abandon our idols. This is how we find the strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to obey God and our parents. This is how we avoid lying, stealing, and murder. To grow in Christ, we must actively pursue the things of God. We must actively uproot out our idols

The next time your child tells you that they sinned because of what some teacher, some (crazy) children’s pastor, or some little kid did, challenge them on it. Remind them that they are in trouble not because of what the other person did but because of what they thought, said, and did. They are in trouble because their actions revealed that they loved something more than God.  Help your kids to start asking themselves why they sin. For example, show them that cheating to get a good grade means they love the approval of men more than God.  Expose their hearts to the reality of sin, Then, point them towards the God of the universe!

Why Big Kids Cry

Why Big Boys CryI LOVED winning baseball games as a kid. Nothing seemed more glorious to my childhood psyche than that $9.50 first place trophy. Yes, my aspirations were pitifully small (this may explain why I had to repeat second grade) but my desires were drenched with passion. I practiced every chance I got; I played hurt at times; and, I publicly challenged my coaches bad decisions. I was all in for the trophy. Finally at the mature age of 11, I snagged I did snag me a championship trophy. Oh the Joy! Sadly, it was short lived. The following year, my team topped out at second. I ended my little league career crying in my dad’s car too angry to speak.

Why The Tears

I mention my own experiences with rec league baseball because they point to an important truth. Nothing will satisfy us other than Jesus. If our kids are living for baseball, good grades, or musical perfection, they will not be satisfied. Their little emotions, self-esteem, and joy will fluctuate drastically with each success or failure. Often kids who lose it when they lose, fail, or make a mistake are not just sensitive. Most are idol worshipers whose idol just got exploded by dose of reality. Because their hope for fulfillment was based on their efforts, they cry.

The Solution For Failure

Despite what Nike commercials say, the solution is not to practice harder or to start earlier. Getting more trophies, more money, and more fame will not make our kids more fulfilled. As Solomon concluded, “I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Kids who strive for more and more worldly success will only find more and more emptiness.As David Platt writes,

The desire for more is a trap. As we indulge this desire, it destroys our soul bit by bit. And it may destroy us forever – p. 40.

The solution is to make Christ everything. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27). We should remind our kids that their worth, hope, and joy are ultimately found in Christ! Yes, God has given us sports, knowledge, and the arts. But, we are to use them for his glory and not for our satisfaction. When we try to find satisfaction in stuff, we get only disappointment because we lose sight of God. Jesus said it this way:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. – John 6:53b-57

Nothing other than Jesus will save us. And nothing other than Jesus will make us happy in this life. As John Piper said,

The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God – p.23.

As we gear up for a spring full of activities, let’s encourage our kids to feed on Jesus! Below our three tips for making this happen:

Three Tips For Heavenly Success

  1. Model our dependence for Christ. We need to pray and be in the word regularly. We need to make service to others andcounter culture the worship of God our highest priorities. We need to fight the temptation to find our satisfaction in our kids’ success. And, we need to depend on prayer and scripture when making decisions. In short, we need to find our joy by obeying God’s commands!
  2. Discipline sin. When we see our kids throw tantrums or snap at a coach, we handout suspensions. We end practices for our kids and make them take time off. We help them see that obedience to Christ is a way bigger deal than success. True, our kids may suffer at little on the field or in the classroom. But honestly, this is ok. As Jesus says,

    For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36

    My parents disciplined me often for my on field exploits. And because of their faithfulness and because of the Holy Spirit, I came to see that real life was not found on the Baseball diamond.

  3. Ask God to save. Ultimately, only those who the father calls will believe. As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink (even if everyone closes their eyes and bows their head and mutters something).” As parents, we can and should expose our kids to the beauty of Christ, but kids won’t embrace Jesus on their own. The Holy Spirit must open their eyes. Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” John 6:44). Pray for God to work.

Works Cited

Piper, J. (2003). Desiring God: Meditations of A Christian Hedonist. Sisters: Multnomah Publishers.

Platt, D. (2015). Counter Culture: a compassionate call to counter culture in a world of poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans, and pornography. Carol Streem: Tyndale House.