Attempting to understand children by observing their actions is like trying to read a dictionary to learn English grammar. A young boy of no more than five years of age carried his little suitcase down the front steps of his home. He trudged around the block several times until darkness fell and a policeman stopped him.

The policeman asked the little wanderer, “Hey, what’s the idea?”

Sadly, the boy told him, “I’m running away.”

“Look, I’ve had my eye on you, and you’ve been doing nothing but walking around the block. Do you call that running away, Sonny?”

Choking back tears, the child cried, “Well, what do you want me to do? I’m not allowed to cross the street alone.”

The key to understanding and correcting our kids’ behavior does not lie in changing their external actions (pouting, crying, or deliberately disobeying our instructions), but in recognizing and addressing the heart of the matter. As today’s verse explains, out of the heart are the issues of life. Our kids’ outward behavior is a reflection of what is inside their hearts. Until they experience a change of heart, their actions will become increasingly harmful to themselves and others. It’s our job to help them get their hearts right so that they can experience a meaningful, life-changing relationship with God. This is God’s desire.

Have you noticed rebellious behavior in your kids? Perhaps your children frequently disobey you or they demonstrate a flippant attitude towards spiritual matters. Pray for wisdom to recognize and address the burdens which may be on their hearts. God has not given you the great responsibility of parenting without providing all the tools you need for the job. He cares how you raise your kids, and if you follow His Word, you can do it well.

Unless the heart be kept peaceable, the life will not be happy. If calm does not reign over that inner lake within the soul which feeds the rivers of our life, the rivers themselves will always be in storm. — C.H. Spurgeon

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.