But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children. (Psalms 103:17 NRSV)

As parents, we need to separate our children's deed from their worth as God's children. It's not easy being a parent. A mother of three unruly preschoolers was asked whether she'd have children if she had to do it all over again. "Sure," she responded, "but not the same ones!"

A famous pediatrician was asked by a mother what the best time was to put her children to bed. "While you still have the strength," was the answer.

It's a great joy and a great challenge to be a parent, but perhaps the most difficult part of all is separating a child's actions from his or her value as a person. It is one thing to say, "Tommy, you have done a bad thing. It is quite another to say, "Tommy, you are a bad boy." A child breaks a dish. Mother comes running with a scowl upon her face. "Naughty girl!" she says loudly. "Shame on you." A few moments later the child is tugging on Mommy's dress. She's looking up into Mommy's face. What she wants to know is, "Am I still loved. I have done something I shouldn't have done. Am I still a person worthy of my mother's love?" A wise mother or father will take the child up into their arms and offer comfort and assurance at this point.

Here we take our cue from Jesus--for this is what the cross is all about. Because of what Christ has done, our acceptability is separated from our sinful actions. God loves us, and we are called to love one another.

God of love, help me to pass your love along to others. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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