We're finishing our basement. Actually, we've been working on finishing our basement for about the past six years, but the past couple of months, my husband and I have been putting a lot more effort into it.
Last night, I needed to paint the drywall that's going on the ceiling, and my youngest daughter decided she wanted to help. Now, this is definitely one of those tasks that was going to take longer with her help than without. I was tired and just wanted to get it done, but I had been promising her she could help me paint for a while, so out to the garage we went.
I took up my paint pole and showed my daughter how to roll the paint onto the drywall. As I was doing that, she began to copy my motions and said "I'm imitating you." As she said that, into my mind popped the thought that we need to be imitators of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."
You know, last night I was tired. My kids were tired. It had been a tough day. The last thing I really wanted to do was teach my child something. I almost didn't grab that teachable moment with my daughter. I almost let it pass. In my mind, I had already said, "Not now, God." But the Holy Spirit kept prompting me to talk with my daughter about being imitators of Christ. So, as I handed over my paint pole and tried not to get side-swiped with the paint roller, I asked my daughter who we should imitate.
Her answer was quick and simple -- God. As we talked about what that meant and how Jesus was a physical example for us to follow, I asked my daughter how Jesus treated others. We've been working a lot on controlling our words and being an encourager to others the past few weeks. I asked her how Jesus talked to other people. Her answer made me sit up and take notice.
"He used nice words," she said. "But sometimes he was kind of harsh."
Wow, I thought. Here my 8-year-old had noticed something that I had never really put a lot of thought into. When you look at the words of Jesus, He never uses discouraging language or puts others down. What He does do is call sin a sin. He doesn't mince words about the consequences of certain choices in life. And He was never afraid to call out the religious leaders of His day.
Too often, we have a tendency to paint Jesus as this kind, gentle man, which He was. But we want to gloss over the side of Jesus that overturned the money lenders' tables in the temple and who took on the religious hypocrites of His day.
I'm not really surprised that my daughter picked up on this aspect of who Jesus was. She's a tell-it-like-it-is personality. She also has a strong sense of justice. Reading about how Jesus stood up for what was right and told people exactly what He thought appeals to who she is.
We want to make sure we're giving our kids an accurate picture of who Jesus is. Jesus is both a kind and loving Savior, but He is also someone who stands up for what's right and doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to sin. We want our kids to emulate all of those qualities. If they're going to be imitators of Christ, then we want them to imitate all of Him.
Take a moment to think about what you're teaching your kids about Jesus. Are you giving them a one-dimensional view of who He is? Are you sharing with them the accounts of when Jesus stood up for what was right? Are you sharing the times when He got righteously angry? If not, start working those things into your child's impression of Jesus.
And don't ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit when God is asking you to grab a teachable moment with your child. God might want to teach you something in that moment, too.