Devotionals by Dr. James Dobson

The Great Lie

“I am clear of my responsibility.”
Acts 18:6

Mary Alice and her husband dedicated themselves to raising their three daughters by Christian principles. Two turned out wonderfully; the third caused continual grief before running off at the age of eighteen with a thrice-married ex-convict. As a result, Mary Alice came face-to-face with one of the most painful emotions in human experience: guilt. In her words, “I thought I would go around forever with FAILURE branded on my forehead. My husband and I had long discussions about whether we should drop out of the church and not attempt to minister to others because of our failure.”

These are the words of parents who believed the great lie. In their minds, they had destroyed their precious daughter. They were convinced that even God could not forgive so great a sin. Guilt sometimes is valid and represents the displeasure of God Himself. When that is the case, we must seek the Lord’s forgiveness, and then rest in the knowledge that our parental transgressions and failures are removed from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

At other times, however, our guilt is entirely of our own creation. If this is your situation, you might follow the example of the apostle Paul. Despite his devoted efforts to preach the gospel to the Jews in Macedonia, they became abusive and forced him to leave. His response? “I am clear of my responsibility” (Acts 18:6). Likewise, you are clear of your responsibility when you have given your very best to your children.

Before you say good night…

  • Do you feel guilt over your parenting efforts? Is it valid?
  • What does God want you to do about your guilt?

Father, even as You build our faith in You, we ask You to build up our confidence in the rightness of our own actions as parents. Please take away our doubts and our guilt, and let us focus on Your infinite sufficiency. Amen.

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This devotional is taken from Night Light for Parents. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reservedUsed with permission.

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About Dr. James Dobson

James Dobson is the host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. He is also the founder of Focus on the Family, where he served for more than 30 years.

A licensed psychologist and marriage, family, and child counselor, he was an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California for 14 years. He invested 17 years on the attending staff of Children's Hospital Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics.

Earning a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, he's authored more than 30 books, including his most recent bestseller, Bringing Up Girls. Dr. Dobson has also been heavily involved in governmental activities related to the family. He was elected in 2008 to the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley, the father of two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and the grandfather of Lincoln.

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