Loving Your Unlovable Child

Think of a time when it was difficult for you to love your child. Not when it was difficult to smile at them or think positively about them… But when it was difficult to seek their best at any cost. More than likely, it was either while they were steeped in sin or right after they sinned. When sin manifests itself in others we tend to retreat from them. We do this for any number of reasons (for protection, reputation, justification, discipline, vindication, disgust, or self-healing), but can you say you retreat from your sinful child in love? Christ calls parents to love their children extravagantly, even while they appear unlovable. And this extravagant love does not retreat from but pursues after a lost child.

In the book Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund says, “When we sin, the very heart of Christ is drawn out to us.” He is inspecting Hosea 11:9 when he says this. The verse reads, “For I am God and not man, the Holy One among you; I will not come in rage.” We expect God’s holiness to lead to His rage against our sin, but in fact God’s holiness leads to mercy! He is not like us, who leverage the sin of others for personal gain, no, He approaches us, sin and all, in order to rescue us unto Himself.

Parents, we ought to draw near to our sinful children. This may seem counterintuitive, like running headlong into a burning building, but that is the very essence of Christ’s love for us. At great personal cost, we will lovingly help someone who does not deserve it toward their greatest good in God. We confess, more times than not, we decide to parent as we believe God deals with us in our sin – full of vindictive rage. How can we ever have a heart, a holy heart, like God’s, full of mercy and love? It is only by trust and reliance that His mercy is drawn out to us! Reader, if you have never felt God draw near to you in the midst of your sin then think now of His mercy toward you; even in your deepest most selfish sin He calls you to cast yourself upon Him for help and rest.A few practical ways you can mercifully draw near to your sinful child:

  1. Confess your own selfishness and fix yourself upon Christ’s mercy. Nothing draws out your selfishness quite like the sins of others. Be ready to right your heart in the gift of Christ’s mercy. You cannot be merciful until you are reliant on Christ’s mercy.
  2. Pray for and with your children. They may reject the ‘with’ option, but you can always pray for them. Do not pray vindictively or selfishly but pray humbly for their greatest need to be met in Christ. Approach God with their needs before you approach them in their sin.
  3. Serve their heart. Look upon their heart as God does – with a desire for it’s restoration to Him. Don’t wait on appease or assuage them, but look past their sin, tantrums, and selfishness to their heart and love them in a way that models God’s love.

In drawing near to them, you draw them near to Christ.

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