Heart Modification Vs. Behavior Modification

The other day one of my sons was feeling sorry for himself because he did not get a goodie bag after a party we attended. In contrast, another one of my sons who also did not get a bag said, “It’s okay mom, we should share.” This incident made me realize that we need to pay close attention to what is going on in the hearts of our children. What they say and do, what they treasure…these are all indicators of what is going on inside. One son was positive and others-centered while the other one was negative and self-centered.

To deal with this, my husband gave a family devotion that very same night on Proverbs 15:15, “A cheerful heart has a continual feast.” This was the memory verse for the week for our boys. My husband and I gave examples of how to apply this and we discussed the meaning of the passage. The boys shared their own insights as well.

In an awesome book I am reading called “Parenting is Heartwork”, authors Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanna Miller talk about the importance of heart modification versus behavior modification. Psalm 37:31 says “The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.”

Similarly, our children need to put God’s word in their hearts so can overcome their heart issues. Memorizing scripture is one way to do this. When our children memorize passages in the Bible, it transforms their hearts. And at the very least, as parents, we can refer back to the scripture when we need to correct and instruct them.

The next day when my sons came home from their taekwondo class and one of them was applauded by their coach for not complaining (having the right behavior), I asked him, “Why did you have a good attitude?” He replied, “I wanted to have a cheerful heart for Jesus!” It made me feel like crying because I was so happy that he understood what he had memorized the night before. And it was NOT to our credit as parents but to the power of God’s word.

“The word of the Lord is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12


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