Principles, the principles of Gods Word, the precepts, the fundamental laws of our being. These are what we are to teach diligently to our children. And these are absolutely ESSENTIAL for them to know, if they are to be able to develop a Christlike character. What is character again, our working definition this week? “The thoughts and feeling combined” (5T310). And you see, it is only by principle, inculcated, engraved, etched upon the fleshly tables of the hearts of our children. It is only by these principles, that they can come to govern their thoughts and feelings. Therefore it is only by these principles that they can come to develop a Christlike character.
Jesus Christ was the express image of the Father, He was the fulness of His glory. He could say to Philip, “if you’ve seen Me, you have seen the Father”. Why? Because He said “I come to do THY will oh My God, yea Thy law is within My heart”. The principles of Gods law, which is the transcript of His character, was engraved upon the fleshly table of the heart of Jesus Christ. His every thought, His every feeling, was brought into harmony with those principles. Therefore, He was a perfect reflection of His Fathers glory, His Fathers character.
And brothers and sisters, it is only as we seek, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to engrave those same principles upon the minds of our children that they will be able to do for Christ what He did for the Father. Is that not what He asks us to do? “As the Father has sent me so send I you” (John 20:21). What did the Father send Him to do? To reveal His glory. What does He send us to do? To reveal His glory. But we must have the principles of His law, which is the law of love and liberty written upon our minds if we are going to bring our thoughts and feelings “into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. (2 Cor 10:5). Have our character shaped by those principles.
Remember the statement we read this morning? Let’s review it. CT 20 “Old and young are to form habits of thought that will enable them to resist temptation. They must learn to look upward. The principles of the Word of God–principles that are as HIGH AS HEAVEN and that compass ETERNITY–are to be understood in their bearing on the daily life. EVERY ACT, EVERY WORD, EVERY THOUGHT, is to be in accord with these principles”.
This morning, in Part One, we considered HOW, we are to teach these principles. This evening Part Two. I would like to consider with you, WHAT principles we are to inculcate. What principles we are to seek to inscribe upon the minds, the understanding of our children. But before we proceed, what MUST we pause to do? Invite Gods Spirit to be with us in a special way. Would you kneel with me?
Our Father in heaven, we kneel before You as needy children. We freely acknowledge that we have no right to address you as Father, except that which has been purchased for us by the blood of our elder brother. And oh, we’re grateful for the price He paid, that we might be considered Your sons and Your daughters in Him. And we thank You, that in Him, hiding in His robe of righteousness, we may come boldly before Your throne with our requests, just now. And our requests is for that for which we most desperately need. The Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Him who is the Truth. Oh Father, grant us that gift, not because we’re worthy, but because we’re needy, and because Christ is worthy. Father, again I pray, that You would condescend to take possession of my mind, my tongue, my voice, and use me to glorify Christ, and to edify His bride, that is my prayer, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
As we diligently teach our children the principles of Gods Word. As we help them to understand these principles and the cause, effect relationships, between obedience and blessings, disobedience and suffering. As we do this, we enable him to obey, more and more on his own initiative, by his own choice. Because he sees the reasonableness of obedience. And he chooses to obey, not because we require it of him, but because it makes good sense to him, and he sees that obedience is in his own best interest.
And brothers and sisters, this is such an important place to bring our children to. This is the road to self-control, to self-government. This is the road to maturity. I read from ED 287 “The object of discipline is the training of the child for self-government. He should be taught self-reliance and self-control. Therefore as soon as he is capable of understanding, his reason should be enlisted on the side of obedience. Let all dealing with him be such as to show obedience to be just and reasonable. Help him to see that all things are under law, and that disobedience leads, in the end, to disaster and suffering. When God says ‘Thou shalt not,’ He in love warns us of the consequences of disobedience, in order to save us from harm and loss.”
Oh parents, if we can communicate that concept to our children, we have made a tremendous breakthrough. Every “thou shalt not”, is given them, by an authority that loves them and wants to protect them, from the inevitable self-destruction that will come upon them if they violate principle.
So parents, when we say to our children, “thou shalt not”, or when we say, you shall, and our children say in response, why? Let us never respond by saying, because I said so. Let us rather, sit down with them, and say what our heavenly Father says to us. “Come let us reason together” (Isa 1:18). Come let us reason together. We must strive to teach them the reasonableness of our rules, pointing out the principles behind the rules, and the cause, effect relationship again. Between honoring those principles, and blessings, violating those principles and suffering. If they can see that, we’ve gained a great victory.
CG 253 “And if the children see that you are not unreasonable, you have gained a great victory. This is the work that is to be carried on in our family circles in these last days”. You see when the child sees the reasonableness of obeying, the rules of the house, of conforming to the standards, that you as parents, have set for him, as he sees the reasonableness of it, because he understands the principles behind them. He will be well on his way to maturity, to independence. This is what it means to train up a child when he is young, when he is dependent. So that when he is old, he is will what? “He will not depart”.
And what is old? It’s in contrast to young, when he’s a child, dependent. Old is when he is independent. You see brothers and sisters, while our children are with us, they are under our authority. But will they always be under our authority? No. There is coming a day, when they will step out, they will become independent. And if while they are under our authority, we haven’t been striving to teach them principles, whereby they can govern themselves, when they step out from under our authority, what will happen? They’ll just lose all control, because they have not been taught self-control. If our training then is the straight-jacket approach, when that straight-jacket is removed, they’ll just fall apart. We must teach them principles, that’s the backbone for moral character.
And of course, there’s authority that must be exercised before they know those principles. But I submit that the ideal is to teach self-control, and give more and more room for the child, to exercise that self-control. Until the straight-jacket, that structure, is entirely unnecessary. Because they are governing themselves. Then when they step out from under our authority, will they fall apart. They’ll stay right in the way. Oh they may err a bit, but they’ll come right back. Why? Because we’ve equipped them to understand principle. And to choose to obey, seeing the reasonableness and the value and the blessing inherent in obedience.
The principles that we need to teach them, what are they?
First of all I would submit,
Principle #1, GOD is LOVE. God is love, and He loves you, son, daughter. You see, loosing sight of this principle is what brought about the fall of man. And it is only as we re-establish an understanding of this principle, that we can bring about the restoration of man. The Spirit of Prophecy brings out 3 distinct steps that Satan used to cause the fall of man. Do you know what they are? They’re implied, of course, in the account itself of the fall of man.
Number One was DISTRUST, GODS LOVE. Distrust Gods love. How did Satan get Eve to do that? By suggesting that God was withholding something for their best interest, for their good. After he got her to distrust Gods love, he could then take her to step #2, DISBELIEVE GODS WORD. If indeed God was holding back on them, perhaps what God said, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17), was not really true, maybe it was just a scare tactic. And then after taking step #2, step #3 was quite easy wasn’t it? REJECT GODS AUTHORITY.
Could Satan have gotten Adam or Eve to reject Gods authority, without first getting them to distrust Gods love, and disbelieve Gods word? No, impossible. He had that ground-work to do, he had to tear up that foundation underneath them before they would ever disobey God, and reject His authority.
Brothers and sisters, the same steps are important in bringing about the restoration of man. Can we expect our children, to accept Gods authority, before we have established in them a trust in Gods love, and a belief in His Word. Can we? No we can’t. In the restoration process then, what must come first? We must teach our children, that they CAN TRUST GODS LOVE. And because He loves them, they can believe His Word. And His Word must be in their best interest, because He what? He LOVES them. Therefore, what’s the only reasonable thing to do? ACCEPT HIS AUTHORITY.
PRINCIPLE #1 then, is to teach our children that GOD IS LOVE, and that He LOVES THEM. And this of course we must do, by modeling that fact to them. We represent God to our children, don’t we? And as they see in us, LOVE, it will be easy for them to see it, in their heavenly Father.
PRINCIPLE #2. Only in obedience, to Gods law, which is holy, just and good, can we experience the abundant life. Health and happiness. Oh this is such an important principle for our children to grasp. Only in obedience, to Gods law, can we experience the abundant life. This is a vitally important principle to teach our children, because by nature they are inclined to believe the original lie. And what was the original lie? The original lie, was that in rejection of authority, in violation of law, we would experience and realize our highest potential, for pleasure and power. Through self-gratification and self-glorification, we would experience the ultimate. We would be just like God. And we are inclined, by nature, to believe that lie. Especially when that lie is constantly reinforced through the media, and through everything that comes from the world.
Look at advertising billboards, sometimes. What is the constant message? In transgressing, in violating the laws of your being, you will experience the greatest joy, the greatest pleasure, the greatest happiness. And we must equip our children, to be able to resist that onslaught.
ST Dec 20, 1877 “The young frequently receive the impression that happiness is to be found in freedom that happiness is to be found in freedom from restraint, and in the enjoyment of forbidden pleasures and self-gratification.” Oh brothers and sisters, lets equip them with the principle that will protect them from believing such a lie. We must teach our children that God commands obedience to their parents, and He promises blessings, in obedience. Deut 5:16 “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you”, (to what end?) “that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you”.
Did you note the two aspects of the blessing? “Honor your father and your mother”, and you will enjoy quantity of life. “that your days may be long”. But is that all? No, quality of life as well. “that it may be WELL with you”. Obedience brings quantity and quality of life. Disobedience brings death and suffering.
R&H Mar 8, 1870 “The Lord well knew that the happiness of His children depends upon their submission to his authority, and living in obedience to this holy, just and good rule of government.” The Lord knows that, and parents, hopefully, we know that. But what our work is, is to strive to help our children know that.
One of the greatest blessings, inherent to obedience to Gods law, that we need to help our children recognize, as well, is liberty. Liberty, freedom from the tyrannical control, of sin, self, and Satan that by nature we are subject to.
James 1:25 “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” And the greatest blessing, is freedom from the tyranny of self, and sin.
Ed 291 “The youth have an inborn love of liberty; they desire freedom; and they need to understand that these inestimable blessings are to be enjoyed only in obedience to the law of God. This law is the preserver of true freedom and liberty. It points out and prohibits those things that degrade and enslave, and thus to the obedient it affords protection from the power of evil.” Appeal to this love of liberty in your children parents. And direct that love of liberty to a love of law, by showing them that the law preserves liberty.
Psalm 119:45 “And I will walk at liberty” why? “for I seek Your precepts”. MH 131 “Obedience to God is liberty from the thralldom of sin, deliverance from human passion and impulse. Man may stand CONQUEROR of himself, CONQUEROR of his own inclinations, CONQUEROR of principalities and powers……..In no place is such instruction as this more needed, and nowhere will it be productive of greater good, than in the home.” A vital principle for us to teach our children parents, is that OBEDIENCE to the law, not only brings BLESSINGS, HEALTH, and HAPPINESS, but it brings LIBERTY, true freedom.
It is so important for us to strive to develop within our children’s thinking, a positive attitude towards the law. Remember that this is NOT NATURAL. And therefore it will take marked and concerted and diligent effort to do that. What is natural to our children? The carnal mind is what? “enmity against God”. It does not subject itself to the law of God, is not even able to do so. (Rom 8:7) Why? It despises it. By nature, we rebel against Gods will, Gods law. That’s why we must strive diligently to develop, with the power of the Holy Spirit working in our behalf, a love for the law.
Here is a good practical suggestion that would aid in that effort. Manuscript 12, 1898 “Present before your children the instruction given in the 119th Psalm. Take this precious lesson and read it with tender soften hearts. Encourage your children to commit the same to memory, especially the first 16 verses.” What is the constant testimony of Psalms 119? HOW LOVE I THY LAW. David is just celebrating the goodness of Gods law. All the way through that chapter. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible, that would be quite a memory project, wouldn’t it?
But brothers and sisters, I submit that there is little that we could do for our children that would help them more, to come to appreciate and value of Gods law, than helping them memorize that chapter. It would be a good project for us too, wouldn’t it? I can’t say that I have done it.
There are many other principles that we should seek to inculcate, in our children’s minds. But I would like to just briefly outline a few, and then move to one that I think is particularly significant.
These few relate particularly to character development, and that is the emphasis of our study together. A principle that is so important, and that I am striving to help Stevie and Ryan come to understand myself, is that “As a man thinketh in his HEART, so is he” (Prov 23:7). And this principle requires some very practical and radical applications.
For instance, Melissa and I, forbid our children to pretend that they are shooting and killing each other. Pretending that they are doing things to harm or hurt each other. Why is that important? Should I just tell my children not to do it and then not explain why? Not if I want to enlist the power of reason on the side of obedience. I need to explain to them, and indeed I have, that: “As a man thinketh in his HEART, so is he”. If you can pretend in your mind that you’re killing someone, you are making yourself more capable of actually doing such a thing. Oh parents, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Lets help our children grasp that and see the applications, the implications of that basic principle in their daily life.
Another principle that we’ve referred to already is that “in beholding, we are changed”. (2 Cor 3:18) Vitally important principle for children to understand. And it gives so much common sense and reason to many specific do’s and don’ts, that we have as parents, doesn’t it? So many do’s and don’ts in the Wallace family can be traced back to the fact that “in beholding, we are changed”.
Another vitally important principle is the law of reciprocal influence. What do we mean by that? The law of reciprocal influence is that principle that causes all of our words and actions, to reinforce, to establish, to strengthen the thoughts that initiated them. Oh that is a vitally important principle. We must help our children recognize that whenever they say something ugly about someone, they are reinforcing those ugly thoughts about that person. Whenever they do something wrong, they are reinforcing those wrong thoughts that initiated that action. This is how habits are developed and strengthen. Every time an act is done, the thoughts that initiated them are reinforced and strengthened, until we make a habit that can hold us like cords of steel. The law of reciprocal influence, an important principle in character development, to try to teach our children.
Also another vitally important principle, is the intimate relationship between mind and body. And the implications of this are vast. The fact that when one is affected, the other sympathizes. How important then it is for us to take care of our bodies, if we hope to develop a Christlike character.
There are several other principles, but time does not afford our going into them. However, one that is particularly important and very practical, I would like to share with you here. And that is that useful, meaningful, activity, labor if you like, is ESSENTIAL, in order for our children–anyone for that matter–to enjoy health and happiness, a sense of purpose in life–a sense of personal worth and fulfillment. It is absolutely necessary in the develop of character. I repeat, useful labor is essential to character development. This is a vitally important principle for us to not only teach our children, but to practically apply, in our child training.
CG 127 “Let us teach the little ones to help us while their hands are small and their strength is slight. Let us impress upon their minds the fact that LABOR is NOBLE.” This is a vital principle that we must impress upon the mind, engrave upon the mind, and this can work as few other principles can, to help that child develop a Christlike character.
You see, when a child is challenged to become involved in a useful and practical way, in household responsibilities and duties, he is tremendously helped to overcome his natural tendency to be self-indulgent and lazy.
Manuscript 12, 1898 “Selfishness and self-indulgence must be weeded out of the character. Keep ever before your children Bible requirements. Unite them with yourselves in every work of kindness, and tender regard for the suffering and destitute. In their earliest years, they can be your little helpers in domestic duties, and in benevolent enterprises. Self-denial and self-sacrifice for the good of others, will be a safeguard against all extravagance, all reckless use of money for selfish gratification.”
Let’s take a look at those two. “In their earliest years, they can be your little helpers in” what?
1) “in domestic duties, and
2) in benevolent enterprises”.
First of all, benevolent enterprises. Here’s a practical idea. Manuscript 66, 1905 “Children are to be educated to denial themselves. In every home, there should be a self-denial box.” Have you ever heard that before? “Into this box the children should be taught to put the pennies they would otherwise spend for candy and other unnecessary things. They are to be taught that there is a great work to be done for a needy suffering people. You will find that as the children place their pennies in these boxes, they will gain a great blessing. As the children of such families grow up, they understand something about missionary work, because they are taught what it means to deny self, in order that souls may be brought into the truth.” Benevolent enterprise, set up a self-denial box, let your children make sacrifices for the good of others, and get them involved in doing things of benefit for others.
I appreciate so much my wife, getting the children involved in this. She’ll have them involved with her making cookies for an elderly man that lives down the street. They just love to get there in the kitchen and help mommy make a batch of cookies. And there is just a thrill that is hard to describe, on their faces, as they take those cookies, they had a part in making, and give it to that dear old man. And oh what that’s doing for their character. Oh how powerful that is to counter those naturally selfish and self-indulgent tendencies. Oh how potent that is, to help them taste and see experientially that it is MORE blessed to give than to receive. A vitally important lesson. She also has them frequently, make little greeting cards with words of encouragement to share with the neighbors, and then take them to the neighbors.
What about domestic duties? Benevolent enterprises, we’ve considered. What about domestic duties? ST Sep 6, 1877 “The importance of early educating the young to the practical duties of life cannot be over estimated”. “CANNOT be over estimated”.
Manuscript 126, 1903 “The education of the child, for good or for evil, begins in its earliest years. The children should be taught that they are part of the family firm. They should be trained to act their part in the home. They are not to be continually waited upon, rather, they should lighten the burdens of father and mother. The mother should not wear herself out by doing work that the children might do, and should do.” Did you hear that mothers? Would you write that down? “The mother should not wear herself out by doing work that the children might do, and should do.” Not only for your sake, dear mothers, should you get them involved, but primarily for their sake. It is damaging to them, for you to work yourself to the bone, doing things that they could and should be doing. It only fosters and encourages their tendencies to selfishness.
R&H Nov 17, 1896 “Children MUST be taught that they are part of the home firm. They are fed and clothed and loved, and cared for, and they MUST respond to these many mercies by bringing all the happiness possible into the family, of which they are members.” And the best way to make mommy happy, is to help her. Now I recognize from personal experience, that sometimes it’s more work to teach children how to be helpful, than it is to do it yourself. But please recognize that that is only true in the short term. And though it will take a bit extra work in the short run, I assure you it will pay off in the long run. Not only in the practical help, that they have been trained to give you, but in character development, that they will receive in the process.
What about the older children? Manuscript 126, 1903 “As the older children grow up, they should help to care for the younger members of the family.” Stevie is discovering that fact.
Manuscript 66, 1905, the same concept, “Are you allowing your sons and daughters to shun the responsibilities that properly belong to them? Do the little ones go to the mother for everything, when the older ones ought to be taught to share the burden, of caring for them, that the mother may have time to rest.” Take the time mothers, it’s worth it, it will pay off.
You see, if we do not have our children actively involved in home duties, on a consistent and significant level, we are depriving them of one of the most effect aids in teaching principles of Christianity, principles of Christian character development, and we are actually fostering selfishness. Oh parents, let’s get them involved. Let’s get them involved.
R&H Nov 17, 1896 “Parents, help your children to do the will of God by being faithful in the performance of the duties which really belong to them, as members of the family. This will give them a most valuable experience. It will teach them that they are not to center their thoughts upon themselves, to do their own pleasure, or to amuse themselves. Patiently educate them to act their part in the family circle. To make a success of their efforts, to share the burdens of father and mother, and brothers and sisters. Thus they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are really useful.”
And there is indeed great satisfaction for children to experience in this area. And fathers and mothers, we should do all we can to help them experience that satisfaction to the fullest, by expressing our gratitude, and our appreciation for their involvement. Let them know that we really do appreciate what they have done for us, and that will give them even a greater sense of satisfaction.
In order to teach them the joy of useful labor, we also need to make the duties as pleasant as possible. Let’s exercise wisdom here. Don’t require them to do, all the things that you can’t stand to do yourself. That’s not going to teach them the joy of labor. Think of those things that they would enjoy doing that are still useful and beneficial and of real help.
Manuscript 12, 1898 “The children should be educated for usefulness. They should be taught to do those things that are needful in the home life. And the parents should make these duties as pleasant as possible, with kindly words of instruction and approval.”
One thing that we have found in our home that makes jobs enjoyable for our children, is to give them jobs that challenge their abilities. Don’t give them simple menial tasks, that require no maturity. Give them tasks that require of them a certain level of maturity and they will be challenged by it, and will have special satisfaction in being able to accomplish it. Because they’re BIG boys now, they can do an important job.
In this process of teaching them to become meaningfully involved in the responsibilities of the home life, system and regularity are important. System and regularity. Melissa has made, and it hangs on the boys door, a chart. And on the chart at the top, it says, jobs to do, and at the bottom of the chart it says, jobs done. And on both sides, there are two little pockets, one for Ryan and one for Stevie. And then she’s worked with the boys and made job cards. She’s gone through magazines and cut out pictures of things that help the boys understand what the job is. You know, a little child brushing their teeth, or a child making it’s bed, or something. Or if she can’t find a picture, she’ll draw a picture. And then she’s laminated these cards, so that they can stand the dirty little fingers that handle them a lot.
And all of them, in the morning are to be found in the Stevie and Ryan pocket under jobs to do. But when the boys set out to do their jobs, they pull out their job cards, they shuffle through them and as the do them they can put them in the “jobs done” pocket. System, regularity.
Another important point is that we need to help them recognize that jobs need to be done in a certain reasonable amount of time, and this is where daddy comes in. They have typically to do their job cards in the morning, they have 15 minutes. Which is an ample amount of time. And their jobs involve such things as making their bed and taking out the trash, and taking the laundry down, and there are several other things. But they’re not terribly difficult and they can be done in about 15 minutes, including getting themselves ready, of course. And daddy is there to see to it that those jobs are done in that amount of time. And the motivation that I try to use to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time, is a reward.
Now I like to reward them with either a dime or a nickle or maybe a quarter. And I am careful to tell them that this is not payment for the job. Watch out, I don’t believe in allowance, as payment for doing jobs that they really ought to be doing, just because they’re members of the home circle. It’s not payment, this is a reward. This reward is simply daddy’s appreciation. And I don’t tell them whether it’s a dime day, or a nickle day, or a quarter day, and every once in awhile I come up with even a dollar day, if daddy happens to have a little extra money in his pocket. They don’t know what day it is, so they’re always eager to get their jobs done so they can find out what the reward is.
Sometimes they haven’t got their jobs done in time and it turned out to be a dollar day, and they were most disappointed. And that did a lot of good to keep them right at their jobs and get it done within that time period. How important it is parents for us to teach, not only system and regularity, but efficiency to our children, as we get them involved in home responsibilities.
Also we need to teach them that work is a PRIORITY. It’s a priority. Work comes first, then play, in our home. The jobs must be done before they can play. Not because we have to get that which is miserable out of the way before we can have fun. Avoid that concept. But rather because work is much more important and worthwhile than play. And it gets our first attention. We need to think about what we can do to help others, before we spend any time entertaining ourselves.
There are so many benefits in getting children involved in labor, meaningful help around the home. Here are some of them.
ST Sep 6, 1877 “The first and constant care of parents should be that their children may have firm constitutions that they may be sound men and women. It is impossible to attain this object without physical exercise.” Now what’s the best source of physical exercise? Play? No, listen. “Children, for their own physical health and moral good, should be taught to WORK, even if there is no necessity as far as want is concerned. If they would have virtuous and pure characters, they must have the discipline of well-regulated labor, which will bring into exercise ALL the muscles. The satisfaction children will have in being useful, of denying themselves to help others, will be the MOST HEALTHFUL pleasure they EVER ENJOYED”. The most healthful pleasure they ever enjoyed.
It protects them as well from indolence. And as my mother used to tell me, and I’ve told my children, “idle hands are the devils workshop”. Keep those hands busy, parents.
CG 462 “Mothers, give your children enough to do….Indolence will not be favorable to physical, mental, or moral health. It throws open the door and invites Satin in, which opportunity he improves, and draws the young into his snares. By indolence not only the moral strength is weakened, and the impulse of passion increased, but Satan’s angles take possession of the whole citadel of the mind and compel conscience to surrender to vile passion. We should teach our children habits of patient industry.” Oh how important, not to let them sit around doing nothing. We open them up wide to the devils temptations, when we do that.
It also develops practical skills, it develops reasoning powers and memories.
CT 149 “Children should be taught to have a part in domestic duties. They should be instructed how to help father and mother in the little things that they can do. Their minds should be trained to think, their memories taxed to remember their appointed work; and in the training to habits of usefulness in the home they are being educated in doing practical duties appropriate to their age.”
Brothers. Sisters. As parents, we must help our children learn these principles. But we must also warn them that not everyone feels the same way about these principles, in fact many totally reject the principles of our home– the principles of Gods Word. That’s why there are so much suffering in the world. And those who reject Gods principles, usually are the ones who refuse to admit that suffering and bondage, is the inevitable consequence. In fact, they’ll claim just the opposite. And we need to help our children be prepared for such.
2 Peter 2:18 “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they PROMISE them LIBERTY, they themselves are SLAVES OF CORRUPTION; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage”.
Parents, we must, I submit, prepare our children for peer pressure. They will invariably run into those in the world that do not accept the principles that we have taught them. And will try to convince them that obedience to those principles is robbing them of all sorts of fun and freedom. Warn them of that. And try to help them to prepare to face that lie. Warn them that for a time, those that claim that disobedience brings pleasure and freedom, for a time, it may appear to be true. It may WHAT? It may APPEAR to be true. But that in the long run, it is NOT true. Help them recognize that though sins brings pleasures, they are only “for a season” (Heb 11:25)
And invariably, they will lead to enervation, destruction, of body, mind and spirit. Help them recognize as well, that there is a LAG time, between sowing and reaping. And during this lag time, it may APPEAR, that disobedience is not bringing suffering. And that is when so many are deceived. They’re transgressing, but there’s no apparent evil consequence. Does that mean that they’re getting away with it? No it doesn’t? When you sow a crop, does it come up the next day? No it doesn’t. But be sure that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7) Help your children recognize that the crop may not come in for a long time, but it SURELY will. And when it does, it’s going to be a miserable experience.
Teach them to stand up, to have courage of conviction, in the face of peer pressure. I would suggest just a few things that can help along these lines.
First of all, when they show evidence of standing for principle in spite of peer pressure, praise them for it. PRAISE THEM for it. Tell them that you are so appreciative of that fact. That that makes you very happy. MODEL for that for them as well, parents. They’re imitative by nature, our children. And if WE refuse to submit to peer pressure, we will give them an example worthy of following.
Another point, train them to look first for approval to God, rather than to their peers. GODS SMILE outweighs the frowns of the whole world. His commendation out weights the condemnation of all of their friends. Also discuss freely and frequently with them, peer pressure.
Warn them, regarding the inevitable derision and scoffing that they will run into, as they stand for principles that others reject. In fact I would suggest that it would be a good practice to sit down with them, and go through hypothetical situations with them, regarding peer pressure.
Stevie, what would you do if, you were in a given situation and EVERYBODY else wanted you to do something? What would you do under those circumstances? Help him think it through. Help him PREPARE his mind to come up with a response, under such circumstances.
Another important thing we can do to help them parents, is to point to Biblical examples of those who stood up against peer pressure. And one of my favorite stories, and one of my boys favorite stories along those lines, are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and their good friend Daniel. DARE TO BE A DANIEL. Challenge them with the thought, that as they stand up to what they know to be right, they are MEN, they are WOMEN. And that will thrill them like nothing else can.
Oh parents, when we have, by Gods grace, trained our children to stand alone for principle, no matter what the cost, no matter how strong the peer pressure to do otherwise, we have succeeded in training them up to be men and women who will glorify their God. May OUR Father help us to this end. Shall we pray?
Father in heaven, I thank you for the principles of Your Word. So precious they are. Give us wisdom as parents to teach them to our children. That they in turn, might govern themselves by those principles. Help us to train up our children by teaching diligently to them, the principles of Your Word, while they are young, while they are dependent upon us, so that when the day comes, so that when the inevitable day comes, they are out from under our authority, they will have self-control. They will have learned to govern themselves, by bringing their own thoughts and feelings into harmony with the principles of Your Word. Help us to encourage in them, a love for Your Law. This is my prayer in Jesus’ name. AMEN.