School is about to come to an end. Summer break is just around the corner, and sandwiched in between school and summer are the end of the year report cards. This can be the greatest day of your child’s life, or it can be the end of the world for some children. Everything that they have learned comes down to one of five letters of the alphabet. Ten months of their time and effort is reflected by one piece of paper stuffed into a yellow envelope. And what does this report tell parents? Pass or fail? Academic success or failure? A time for rewards or a time for punishment?
As a parent, how do you respond to your child’s report card?
My two daughters just handed me their report card and one was the proud recipient of an almost perfect scale of grades while the other daughter handed me her report with her head low and tears in her eyes because she did not quite reach the pentacle of success that her sister did, although she did remind me that she had perfect attendance.
I could feel the tension as I encouraged one and voiced disappointment with another. Unfortunately I found myself affirming one daughter’s success while in the same breath I discouraged the other daughter’s efforts.
How do you react and respond to your kid’s grades when they hand you a disappointing report card? Some replace rewards by turning up the summer heat with punishment and groundings? But perhaps this is the summer for you and your child to experience a “season of jubilee.” A season to start over. A season to erase all dept. A season to celebrate being set free.
The Year of Jubilee
The Bible teaches about the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:8-12. The Jubilee came every fifty years. On the Day of Atonement, liberty would be proclaimed throughout the land to all its inhabitants, and all of the property that had been taken by others for unpaid debts would have to be returned to the original families (clans). What a celebration that must have been. Everyone that had been indebted was then released from that debt and able to start over again by having their land returned to them.
Interestingly the official beginning of the Jubilee Year started on the Day of Atonement, which is symbolic of the atoning of sin for the nation of Israel, fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary. This, too, represented a release from a debt — the debt that we owed from our sins that we could never have paid in a million lifetimes. In the Jubilee Year all of the slaves and prisoners were set free and all of the land that had been taken restored.
A Summer Jubilee
If this summer, your kids have a report card that probably deserves punishment, be reminded of the beauty of God’s grace when he offered The Jubilee. Perhaps you can demonstrate the grace of God and celebrate with your kids a summer of Jubilee — a time to experience freedom, being set free from punishment or consequences from poor grades.
Now, this may not improve your children’s grades, but it will provide you with a great way to connect relationally with them. It shows unconditional love that is not based on academic success. This will also communicate that you value them far beyond what they achieve or don’t achieve.
And, when your children ask what the meaning of this Summer of Jubilee is all about, you have an incredible opportunity to teach them about God’s picture of salvation.
The Jubilee year contains many of the pictures of our salvation. Just as the land, the people and all the property was released, so we too have been released from a debt that we could not pay (our sins). We were once slaves to sin, but now we’ve been released, once held captive but now set free. Christ’s blood has atoned for our sins and satisfied the wrath of God that was due us (Rom 5) and as the land was given rest, we too have entered into His rest from all of our works. We could never save ourselves by our own works because salvation is fully a work of God. If you are not saved, then maybe you have asked what some had asked Jesus: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:28-29).
Pastor Brody Howell is the founder of Core Solutions for Family Life where he consults and teaches in churches to impact youth and families. He is also an area advisor for First Priority of South Florida and the director of The Family Counseling Center, which offers pastoral counseling for families in crises. Pastor Brody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.