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Family – The Ultimate Discipleship Tool

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members
another law waging war against the law of my mind
and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

– The Epistle to the Romans 7:21-25a (ESV)

Today was “just one of those days” where I acted like anything but a follower of Jesus and it all centered around my family. I self-destructed with my kiddos in Fuddruckers. We were having lunch after my oldest’s basketball game and it seemed all three of my boys decided to push my buttons by yelling, running around and throwing fits. Then it was my turn.

I’m sure there are times where my wife believes she lives with four boys instead of three plus a grown man. Today had to have been one of them. I responded to my kids by “powering up” on them at the restaurant. It didn’t look good. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t do any good. Man I hate when I blow it by blowing up! You would’ve thought I learned my lesson for the day, right?


In the late afternoon I switched my targeting systems to my wife. I was irked at something she did and instead of calmly and graciously talking with her about it I decided to let her have it. Missiles launched, bullets flew, swords were drawn. It didn’t look good. It didn’t feel good…

Am I repeating myself?

Well, after an evening spent repenting to the day’s casualties, I painfully realize more and more there’s a whole lot of sanctification still needing to take place in my heart. Sometimes when I look into the mirror of my family I see some pretty ugly spots of mine. Spots that need dealing with. Spots that don’t come off with easy promises of “I’ll do better next time” or vapidly regurgitating “I’ll just try harder”. I need to trust the power of the Gospel to do what I simply cannot.

I think I’ve got a pretty decent mind and periodically a fairly strong will, but my solution isn’t primarily intellectual or volitional, it’s spiritual. So instead of trying to depend on a new strategy or the quality of my resolve, I’ll hit my knees asking God to help me trust not in myself but in him. I’ll seek to discover the hidden idols of the heart that are paid homage every time I inappropriately react in frustration with my wife or anger to my kids. I’ll basically try to muster up spiritual measures to address a spiritual problem.

Now, as I finally wind down from the day of drama, I thank God for the gifts he’s given me in my family. Of the many blessings they have become, one is that God has used them in my life to expose some things in my heart that need exposing – things that would for the most part stay hidden. They have become a wonderful, albeit sobering, tool for my growth in Jesus. They have become an indispensable instrument in my discipleship.

O God, may your great Gospel continue to work deeply in me. Amen.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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