The teenager shouted, “You don’t love me. You don’t give me any freedom. Everything at this house is rules, rules, rules!”
Sam had been grounded – again. To get the car, Sam had told his Dad that he was going to David’s house, but instead went with a different friend to a movie he knew he wasn’t allowed to see. The plan might have worked, accept that David called the home phone that night looking for Sam.
This was not an isolated incident. Sam had a tendency to spin stories, to rationalize. Having just turned 16, he thought he should be able to go wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He resented having a curfew, or accountability to anyone. On the bright side, sometimes he would go for weeks or even months living well within the boundaries his parents set. In an effort to encourage his obedience, they would plan little rewards along the way saying, “This is to let you know how much we appreciate the way you have been obedient and respectful lately.” Sam’s reward might be an extended curfew one night or tickets for he and a friend to go to a movie.
What Sam never knew, was how many rewards he missed out on because of bad behavior, which stemmed from his bad attitude. For instance, once his parents had planned to take him and a friend to a professional baseball game, but the weekend before Sam had lied again about where he was going and what he was doing. His parents gave the tickets to another family. Sam never knew. This time, Sam had gone months telling the truth, acting respectfully and making good decisions. His parents were planning a big surprise. If Sam demonstrated that he really had grown up and was trustworthy through the rest of the school year, they were planning to get him a car in the summer. That plan dissolved into thin air as Sam stood ranting at his Dad in their kitchen. Another potential blessing gone, because of a rebellious heart.
How many blessings has our heavenly Father desired to give us, but our own rebellious hearts have caused them to vanish? Just like Sam’s Dad could not reward lies, our heavenly Father cannot reward us when we choose to live outside the healthy boundaries He has set. How many times have we accused God of not being loving because we didn’t get what we wanted, and yet it was our own rebellion that prevented Him from giving us His good and perfect gifts? At Christmas, we often focus on gifts. As we head into the new year, let’s focus our hearts on pleasing our heavenly Father – with love, obedience to His Word (the Bible) and worship of Him. His wonderful gifts will come, but perhaps the greatest gift of this effort will be a transformed heart and the joy that comes with it.
Bible verses to ponder:
James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Matthew 7:11 – If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!