A Truth from Toddler Tantrums

James looked me squarely in the face, furrowed his brow, and picked up a piece of spaghetti. “James, please keep that spaghetti on your tray or in your hand.” Still looking at me, he threw it onto the floor because he was frustrated I wasn’t giving him his orange yet.

Later that day, I wouldn’t let him play with the glass teapot sitting on the counter (I know, worst mom ever right here), so he grabbed my face as hard as he could. Again, frustration ruled his emotions.

As my son turns into a toddler (I can’t believe I just wrote those words!), I’m seeing the way that sin is ingrained in his nature. Sure, some might say that it’s just the way a toddler acts, and while that is true, I think it gives us a picture of a deeper truth we’re shown throughout Scripture. Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about as we enter this new stage of parenting: 

  1. Sin is real. Okay, so I know that this is a no-brainer, but it’s been a good reminder to me that yes, sin does affect our actions and our relationships with other people. Sometimes I can tend to think that my sin is not that big a deal, or not really “too sinful.” But it has effects and consequences, and the selfishness in our hearts is not fiction.
  1. Sin is not taught, it is our nature. My son has never seen my husband or I hit each other, yet he does it anyway. We never had to teach him to disobey us – he innately knows how, and left to his own devices, he will almost every time. Genesis 8:21 affirms, “…the intentions of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” And Ephesians 2:3 says that all of us are “by nature children of wrath.” We are all sinful due to the sin of Adam, and no one is exempt.
  1. Our only hope is Jesus to save us. Though we were created in the image of God, that image is tainted, and we need it to be restored. There’s no way that happens on our own – it is only the work of God that can bring salvation and full restoration. He is the only one who can make dead people alive. So I’m led to prayer – both for myself and for my son. While I can help him to learn what it looks like to obey and teach him acceptable behaviors, I can’t change the nature of his heart – or mine. I need Christ to work.
  1. The training of our hearts to obey is necessary. While my son provides such clear examples of disobedience, he’s not the only one that needs training and instruction in order to obey. I need it too. I need to sit under the authority of God’s word – in my small group, during Sunday morning worship service, and reading my bible at my kitchen table. It’s through these things that the Holy Spirit changes my own heart. Without these things, I easily become complacent in my sin.

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