Because I Love You


All week I watched, kept a list of things they did that they shouldn’t have done and things they didn’t do that they should have. Our three kids were about four, six, and nine. I made a list on an index card–not to berate them, not to nag them, not even to punish them, but only to keep a record of actual wrongs they committed.  If they’d seen what I was doing and asked me why, I’d have said, “Because I love you.”

We had family devotions each night before bed as long as the kids were at home, actually still do most of the time. Usually, we used a Devotions for Kids book with simple one-page stories and a Bible verse or two. But, once a week, we did an activity-based devotion, the idea being something fun, not a lot of lecture, just an activity with a point.

One of my favorites was the one on how we should be “slow to speak.” You’ve probably heard of it. You let them have a race where you give each one a tube of toothpaste and a paper plate to see who can empty the tube the fastest. Then, you talk about how words can be helpful, hurtful, or healing, and how our words are like that toothpaste. You give each of them a plastic spoon and see who can get their toothpaste back into the tube the fastest. Not gonna happen. So, you say, “be slow to speak,” thinking first and saying only the things that are true, kind, and necessary. You tell them that sometimes we have to say hard things, but we should be careful and always “speak the truth in love.”

We had several different books with the activity-based devotions, some seasonal, some science-based, and lots of them just for fun with a purpose, but the one that had the biggest impact on me was one we did one Easter.

That night, we gathered in the family room as usual. The kids were excited and ready to have fun. Kent and I had set up a table and chair for him facing three small chairs for the kids. They got settled in their small chairs and I said, “All rise for the honorable Judge, Dad.” They stood and watched him enter and take his seat, laughing because his judge robe consisted of a large bathrobe over his clothes.

I called the oldest to come and stand before the judge. She stood and moved to face him. I handed him an index card with one of the “Because I love you lists,” and he said, “You are accused of…” and began to read her offenses aloud. I have to admit, my heart broke as her face fell and the color drained from her face. She was always sensitive and trying to please us and by the time he was finished, she was almost in tears.

“How do you plead?” he asked. “Guilty or not guilty?”

“Guilty,” came the quiet reply. There was no denying any of it. She knew she had done everything on the list.

“Guilty. Your punishment will be…” He sentenced her, banged the gavel, and she returned to her seat, white and shaken.

He repeated the process with each of the other two, who were already visibly upset because they knew what was coming.

When all three had been “sentenced,” their dad laid down his gavel, got up, and came around the table, handed me his robe, and spoke. “Are you sorry for what you have done?”

Three solemn faces nodded up and down, heads hung in shame.

“Because I love you, I am going to take your punishment for you. You are forgiven.”

Their eyes grew wide and they breathed sighs of relief. But as happy as they were to be off the hook, there was more to come.

As they watched their dad take their penalties that night and the rest of the week, it was a reminder of their own guilt and that, in reality, they deserved to be penalized, not him. It was a teachable moment for them, and for us as well.

All of us are guilty. All of us sin and do wrong. None of us can deny our guilt. We all deserve the penalty.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV

As you celebrate this spring, this Easter season, take some time to ponder that. I will be doing so as well. Then remember, we can all receive the gift of undeserved forgiveness.

That’s what Easter is really about. Part of a plan that has been place since the foundation of the world. A gift that says, “Because I love you,” signed, Jesus.


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Beverly Smith
With three adult kids and two preschool grandkids, Beverly stays busy keeping up with her family and loves it. She likes to learn new things, be outdoors, and travel. You can frequently find her running with her dog Jack, reading a good book, or watching movies, crime dramas, and Auburn football. She met her husband Kent at Troy University and they moved to Auburn one month after they were married. Originally a Medical Technologist, she obtained a second degree from Auburn University's School of Education and taught Physical Science and Biology at Opelika High School until she decided to become a full time mom. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll say, "A writer for children." She has written preschool activities curriculum and is currently writing middle grade fiction.