“Do not add or take away from my words. Do not take away or add to what I just instructed you. Just DO what I have asked you to do.” Those words just came out of my mouth to a certain 12-year-old boy who thinks my instructions need improving on every single day. When I asked him to make his brother a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, all of the sudden it turned into a full-fledged production and somehow oatmeal, baby carrots and mixed several flavors of drink mixes ensued. My kitchen was now in need of a serious cleaning and all the extra food he decided make went uneaten because all his little brother wanted was a simple pb&j. Raising kids who obey the specifics is not for the faint of heart!
When asked to clean a room according to the standard chart, he also figured that the dusting doesn’t need to be done and a fort needed to be built in the corner. What?! Any other moms out there with creative kids that constantly need refocusing??? “Buddy, I asked you to clean according to the chart– the chart that has a specific list from top to bottom in the order that I want you to clean. NOWHERE does it say to build a fort. If it says dust, then dust is what you must do. Don’t deviate from the plan, don’t add to or take away from the list, just do what it SAYS.” Didn’t I just say this???
We All Have Tendencies Like The Israelites
I suddenly wonder if that is how God felt when He included the instruction in the book of Deuteronomy 4:2: “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”! Seems like the Israelite children of God needed the same reminders as my 12-year-old.
Come to think of it, I often need that reminder myself. We all have tendencies like the Israelites, don’t we?. Like the time I got involved with every ministry under the sun and ran myself so ragged I ended up with mono. 3 weeks into the illness and a whole lot of crying out to the Lord and I realized that most of what I had agreed to do, God never asked me to do. Or the time I signed up for a bake sale because I felt like God told me to contribute. All I needed to do was bake a couple loaves of banana bread- not 2 loaves of banana bread, homemade cinnamon rolls, 6 dozen cookies, and a cherry pie. As you can see, I used to have a tendency to add to whatever God is telling me.
Once God told me to go speak something to someone and I was afraid so I wrote them a letter instead. It didn’t go well and when I ran to God with my outcry about the outcome, He reminded me that He told me to go SPEAK to them, not write a letter. All of a sudden, my heart goes out to my 12-year-old.
I don’t know why our flesh is so quick to sway from God’s Words, but I do know that we must be diligent in training ourselves and our children to completely obey what He says. Just obey. Have you ever noticed that God’s favor and blessing seem to be found in obedience to the specific, small, seemingly insignificant details? I have. God was leading me to give someone $5 one time and I almost didn’t do it because it seemed so silly to just give $5. I was embarrassed but I decided to just buck up and give it anyway. Well, it turned out that that person needed exactly $5 to make up the difference for a utility bill that would have been shut off if they didn’t pay the full amount that week. $5 didn’t seem so insignificant anymore!
Their obedience now will be directly linked to their obedience to God later.
Raising kids that obey the specifics will help them to obey God in even the small things. Their obedience now will be directly linked to their obedience to God later. My son was required to clean up the kitchen that day. And he had to tear down the fort, put everything away and start from the top of the list all over again to clean the living room the way it is expected. “Isn’t that being too hard on him?” some will ask. I’d rather my children learn the lessons of obedience now than later when the stakes in life are much higher.
Is it inconvenient for me to do this? YES. Yes, it is. It takes a LOT of time to train your kiddos to fully obey because they are, you know, kids. There are days when I want to pull my hair out and there are days when I have crumpled in bed and actually cried. But there are also days when my heart swells with pride and thanksgiving to God because my kids are learning character lesson that will serve them well all the days of their life. THAT’S fruitfulness! And when they go through seasons of testing and rebellion, I know God will use it all for good too. Nothing is wasted in Christ.