My kids help with the chores around the house. They have alternated between rotating the various household chores among themselves daily, weekly and monthly. I’m flexible, as long as the chores are getting done in reasonable fashion.
But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, believe it or not, my kids are wicked and sinful. They rebel against simple requests like taking the trash out or vacuuming a room, but the worst one lately has been the dishes.
Actually, it’s not just lately – it’s been for months. And truthfully, it’s really only been one child.
So, in order to help this child learn the valuable lesson of responsibly doing what he’s called to do, whether he “feels” like doing it or not, we gave him the gift of doing dishes – all of them. Every day.
The deal was that if he could keep up with the dishes in a reasonably responsible way, then we’d go back to rotating the job between kids. At first we said a month. That was torture. Then we said two weeks. That was torture, too. Additionally, he then deteriorated into such horrific whining and complaining that we felt we had a new problem on our hands in addition to the old one.
We brought out the big guns. “Son,” we said, “since you have been both irresponsible AND complaining about all of this here’s the deal: you have to clean the entire kitchen on your own. You have to keep it clean for one week straight and then you’re done. BUT, every time you either do a bad job, need to be told to do it, or complain about doing it, your week gets extended. The choice is yours. If this gets extended, you are choosing to have it extended.”
That was about 2 or 3 months ago.
Sigh. Heavy, heavy, sigh.
I’m no shrinking violet, but even I couldn’t stand this arrangement any more. We shortened his prison sentence, but I let him know with absolutely clarity that it was grace, and grace alone, that was getting him out of paying his debt to society. He hadn’t earned it and he knew it.
That was last week.
One happy, blissful week later, another child and I were having a discussion about salvation. We were talking about how we can’t do a hundred good things to make God happy with us. We can’t do a million good things to make God happy with us. There is no way for us to make God happy with us! We can’t pray enough, read the Bible enough, go to church enough – nothing we do can be enough to make God happy with us. Even the ability to have faith to believe all that Jesus has done on our behalf is really God’s gift to us, not our gift to him.
And the clouds parted and the angels sang, because then this child looked at me and said, “Like ______ getting off of kitchen duty! He tried and tried but he just couldn’t do it himself – you had to show him grace!”
Yes, child. Grace. Unmerited reward. The Gospel is clear even through the dishes.