Foothill Christian School Blog

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Redirect Desires

Written by Steve Dubransky, Counseling & Care Minister at Foothill Church

When I hear the words, “she hit me,” or “he took the ball from me again,” or when I am startled by the sudden yelling that indicates there’s a fight ready to break out between my kids, I can’t help but ask why. In fact, one of the most common questions I ask my kids in these moments is “why did you do that?” They often don’t know the answer, but I remind them that the Bible does. In James 4:1-2, it says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

Don’t you just love the practicality of this passage? I have asked that exact question countless times. There is so much to take in from this passage, but one thing is clear: selfishness is a very rampant problem, and it is at the root of every relational breakdown that happens. Look back at verse 1, the cause of our fights and quarrels are the passions that are at war with me. This means that when there is something that I want so badly and don’t get it, I will either sin to get it or sin because I didn’t.

Most of the time, this sinning is done through our speech, actions and feelings towards others. And what often happens is that we see the other person as a barrier to getting what we want rather than a person to love. So instead of addressing our own selfish desires and thinking through how we can serve others better, we blame them, saying things like, “If you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have said what I said,” or “It’s all his fault, He made me do it,” or the most common response in my house is, “She did it first!”

We must help our students realize that the problem is deeper than someone else; it is within them. It is about their desires. Yes, it is true, people are mean sometimes, and people hurt us, but the proper response isn’t to quarrel or fight. We definitely don’t want our kids to hit, yell, lie, gossip and steal, so we must correct these behaviors, but ultimately this is going to take the hard work of addressing our kid’s hearts and their wants and desires, and how they will respond when they don’t get it. Otherwise, our kids will continue to blame their past, their siblings, the mean kid at school, the weather, or anything else they can think of, which can ultimately lead to bias, bigotry, racism, and even murder.

Fortunately, Jesus provides hope for curing a selfish and sinful heart. He died to give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27) and to make us new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) that is able to respond differently. In light of the gospel, our kids can take responsibility for their part in the breakdown of relationships and stop blaming others instead. This requires diligently searching God’s Word for how to respond in God-honoring ways in the future. It contains great hope and real help!


If you need more resources on how to address the heart in your parenting, I recommend Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and How People Change by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp.

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Imago Dei is the Latin sentiment for the “Image of God.” The idea that mankind has been made in the image and likeness of God is rooted in Old and New Testament teachings. This position proclaims that humankind possesses certain qualities, characteristics, or endowments that mirror His nature and character. Considered the “crown of creation”, people are fundamentally different than all other creation, clearly existing for a higher purpose. Many would insist that humans are most like God when it comes to their unique relational qualities, meaning it is man’s ability to engage in complex interpersonal relationships that best reflects the divine. • Yet, our human nature tends to assign negative meaning to circumstances and/or things we do not understand. Unfamiliar cultures, different customs, or unexplained actions are filtered through this bias where our self-centered point of view is presumed correct and superior, leading us to assume the worst of others. • Re-claiming the Imago Dei resets our default position to a more gracious, understanding posture. So “beautifully and wonderfully made” leaves no room for groundless contempt toward others. To the contrary, if Imago Dei was accurately perceived we would be awe-struck, tempted to worship. Therefore, being formed in the image of Christ we are empowered to live deeply in community and ultimately enabled to fulfill the two greatest commandments…love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. #loveyourneighborasyourself #imagodei #asinheaven #georgefloyd
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