Can you imagine telling your children living at home (regardless of their ages), "You are free to do anything you want to do, behave any way you want to behave, be anything you want to be. We impose no restrictions on you."

Each day your children allowed their moods and wants to determine their behavior and activities. What a nightmare for loving, responsible parents! If your children chose on the basis of "want to," mood, and desire, what would happen? To school attendance? To dress? To behavior? To bedtime? To diet? To hygiene? To curfews? To automobiles? To recreational activities? To dating activities? To respect?

Can you imagine this: you give your children the true liberty of personal choice in everything, and your children's behavior improves? That is an unlikely happening because of the immaturity factor. Children do not possess the perspective produced by years, the wisdom produced by experience, the judgment produced by failure, or the understanding produced by success. To them, the restraints of maturity are never in conflict with the self-centeredness of desire.

Parents dream of seeing unrestrained freedom produce improved behavior and choices in their children. Why? Improved behavior and choices would mean they preferred a life, a lifestyle, and behavior based on the Christian values you teach. They would be governed by love for Christ instead of grudgingly controlled by necessity.

What does God want to see in His children? He wants to see freedom in Christ producing improved behavior and choices. He wants to see the maturity factor of love become the governing factor of life. He wants to see children who prefer the life, the behavior, and the focus of the life found in Christ.

I do not presume to know how far the grace of God extends. In the gospels it is obvious that God's grace flowing through Jesus was more powerful than demons, past sexual sin, or past dishonesty. In the epistles it is obvious that God wants His children to mature as they live in His grace. Our desire to reduce every situation to a "lost and saved" issue oversimplifies the realities of God and the needs of a person. Grace is not a license to sin, but grace is the only way God can permit us to be righteous before Him.

When a mature Christian chooses to behave any way he wants, he acts more like Jesus. When a mature Christian chooses to be what she wants to be, she is more like Jesus. His or her attitudes and behavior are rooted in love, not controlled by necessity. An existence of faith in Christ IS what he or she prefers. It IS his or her life of choice.

Galatians 5:13, For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (NAS)

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 23 January 2000

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