Confronting Your Fears

“Lord, whatever You put me through and whatever price I must pay, I choose to believe in You, to trust You, to love You, to worship and serve You, and to remain totally committed to You as my Saviour and Lord.”

That is a simple prayer that can set you free from repeated disturbances from your fears, pride, lust, selfishness and human weakness.  Read on to understand why.

Living Sacrifice

One of the silliest things we do as Christians is try to save our flesh.  Jesus warned that when we try to preserve our life we lose it, but if we lay it down for the Lord we find it.

“For whoever saves his life will lose it: and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

“Losing your life” is the same as presenting it to God as a “living sacrifice”, which the Apostle Paul instructed us to do.

“I beg you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1

When something is sacrificed it is dead.  It is given up completely.  A “living sacrifice” becomes dead to those things that would otherwise distract.

No Worries in the Graveyard

The story goes that someone took a group into a graveyard and told them that no-one in that place had any cares about money or health any more.  There are no worries in the graveyard, because the people are already dead.

The point being made was that problems are a good sign.  They prove you are Alive!

Notice also that we will be free from all cares and worries once we have “died” to self, sin and this life.

Pulling Back Through Fear

When we are confronted by something threatening and fearful we naturally pull back.  And Christians can pull back from their willingness to obey God, because of things they fear.

I have heard from several people over the years who held back from becoming a missionary because they feared they would end up in some horrible place, missing all the comforts they were accustomed (addicted?) to.

People hold back from giving more, serving God more, praying more, reading the Bible more, witnessing to others more, committing to Christian training, and so on, because they have various internal cautions.

Those cautions may well be nothing more than pure fear, and often that fear is focused on our selfish desires.  We fear that we will lose our comforts, or look foolish in the eyes of others, or have to give up something we want to keep.

Tackle the Fear Head On

In my experience the most powerful way to deal with my fears, hesitations, selfish desires and the like is to boldly confront them.

Rather than trying to block out the fear or run away from the threat, it is better to face the fear and cut the ground out from underneath it.

Take a lesson from the ancient man of God, Job, who lost so much of what God had given him.  Rather than become bitter, or curse God, or let fear rule him, he confronted his fears head on.

Even if God kills me I will still trust in him: and I will maintain my own ways before him.” Job 13:15

Job became a “living sacrifice”, ready to die if God so chose, and determined to trust God no matter what.

Take note of Job’s first response to the many tragedies that suddenly came upon him and his family.

“I came out naked from my mother’s womb and I will leave earth naked: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

Practical Examples

Consider the missionary example I mentioned earlier.  Here is the kind of prayer that can put to death the fears I mentioned.

“Lord God, I sense You are calling me to serve You in missionary service.  I am afraid that if I say ‘Yes’ to You I will be sent to some horrible place where I will suffer the loss of all things I hold dear.  So I now choose to renounce my love for those things and to hold You far more precious to me than everything this life offers.  I choose to serve You and to go where You send me, no matter how horrible or difficult that may be to me.  And if You send me to the worst place on earth for the most difficult challenges anyone has ever faced, I will still love You, serve You, worship You, tell others about You, read Your word and cling tightly to You, because that is my choice.  I die to my comforts and my selfishness and I put You above all of those things.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

The Call to Give

Here’s another example, to give you a sense for how you can address issues that come up in your life.  In this case, consider someone sensing the challenge to give up their wealth, as the Rich Young Ruler was by Jesus.

“Lord, I struggle with Your call on me to give up my wealth.  I have come to trust in my money and the security it brings me.  I fear living in poverty and I fear the contempt of all who know me for doing something so silly in their eyes as to give away my wealth.  But I choose now to trust You and to obey what I believe You are calling me to do.  And I realise that I could regret this decision for the rest of my life.  So I confront my fears right now and I declare that I will honour You and I will die to my selfishness and pride.  If obeying You leaves me poor and mocked for the rest of my life, and causes my children to miss out on all the worldly things I want for them, I will still love You, serve You, worship You, tell others about You, live for You and bless Your name.  I have nowhere else to go than to love and serve You, even if my natural life is destroyed in the process.  So I make myself a living sacrifice and I lay my life at Your feet, for Your glory.  Do with me as You choose.”

Confront Your Fears

What are the things that bring the chill finger of fear into your heart?  What are you most afraid of when it comes to yielding to God?  Identify those things and be ready to tackle them head on.

In my present situation my family is homeless because I have yielded to what I believe God wants me to do in tacking bank fraud and injustice in the courts.  I am completely powerless to defeat those evils and I totally rely on God doing a miracle to bring us through.

It’s not a nice place to be in many ways and it challenges me on many fronts.  Yet I can only trust God.  I have nowhere else to go.  I will not worship anyone but Him.  And there are people who think I am crazy for what I am doing.  And maybe I am.

But I am determined to live what I preach.  I am determined to trust God when there is no visible hope and nothing I can do to save myself.  If the bank has its way they will sell my home for less than it is worth and come after me for unjust claims.  The courts continue to frustrate my claims for justice.  I am undone.

But God is still God.  It is still true that the most important thing we can do is have faith in Him.  It is still true that He is on the throne and that He rewards those who determine to seek Him.

So I am living the things I write here.  And I am enjoying God’s preservation and grace even in this stretching time.

But even if God decides to let me be squashed and financially destroyed by the bank, what else can I do but trust Him? I will not give in to fraud and injustice, treason and corruption.  So I must look to God and rely only upon Him.

I encourage you to address your fears and to cross the hurdles that hold you back from being totally yielded to God.

Choose Your King

Your power of choice is incredibly important to you. No more so than with your choice of who to bow to. Ultimately you must bow your knee to Jesus Christ. You can do that in your life, now, and be happy about that for eternity. Or you will end up bowing your knee to Jesus Christ after this life is over, and having eternity to regret not having done it now.

Choice

Joshua, who led Israel into the Promised Land, understood the importance of making a choice about who you will bow to. He challenged the nation of Israel to choose who they would serve. He declared, as an old grandfather, that he and his entire household were dedicated to serve the Lord.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day who you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the water, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

So it is for each of us. We must make the choice of who we will bow the knee to.

That is why this post is titled, “Choose Your King”.

Abraham and Kings

Abraham did business with kings. He negotiated with them. He rebuked them. He feared them. He did battle with them. He fought on their behalf. So Abraham had opportunity to reveal how a man of God should deal with kings.

The historical record lists a group of warrior kings who oppressed parts of Palestine in the days of Abraham. There is no record that they oppressed Abraham personally, but Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was living in Sodom, and so came under the oppression of these kings.

“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.” Genesis 14:1,2

War of the Kings

When the local kings rebelled against the oppressors war broke out. The dominant kings invaded the land, attacked the rebelling cities and took them all captive.

“And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” Genesis 14:8-12

Abraham’s Army

Fortunately for Lot, Abraham had his own standing army. And that army was an impressive force. Abraham had 318 trained servants in his household who were prepared for warfare.

“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.” Genesis 14:14-16

That’s a pretty good effort. Four kings which dominated the region and beat all that was before them were overpowered and defeated by a small private army. It begs the question of what “trained servants” means and what kind of ‘training’ Abraham gave them.

King Rejected

Obviously Abraham was a hero after such a victory. The King of Sodom was overjoyed to receive his people and goods back. Abraham was like an angel to him. So the King offered to give a huge reward to Abraham.

However, Abraham declined to take anything from the King. Abraham did not want it to ever be said that the King of Sodom had made him rich. Abraham allowed his own servants to receive a reward, but he refused for himself.

“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to yourself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich” Genesis 14:21-23

Abraham rebutted the King of Sodom, refusing to receive anything from him.

King Honoured

On the same day Abraham rejected the King of Sodom he met yet another king and gave that king total adoration. Now, isn’t that interesting? Abraham did not treat all kings equally. Abraham rebutted one king and fell at the feet of another.

The Bible records that Abraham met Melchizedek, the King of Salem, or King of Peace. Some even suggest that Melchizedek was King of the Heavenly Jerusalem (see the word “Salem” in the word Jerusalem).

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he (Melchizedek) blessed him (Abram), and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered your enemies into your hand. And he (Abram, later called Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek) tithes of all.” Genesis 14:18-20

Spiritual King

We learn later, in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, that this meeting was very significant.

“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like the Son of God; abides a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” Hebrews 7:1-4

This King of Salem was a divine and eternal being. I believe that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. He brought “bread and wine” to Abram, just as Jesus gave His disciples the Communion (Eucharist) meal at the last supper, in which He said, “This is my body… This is the New Covenant in my blood”.

So Abraham fell down and worshipped the spiritual king, but did not give place to the wishes of the wicked earthly king.

Wicked King

How do we know that the King of Sodom was a wicked king?

Not long after Abraham had rescued the city from the invading kings that whole region was destroyed because of the homosexuality of the men. The King of Sodom ruled a land of sensual, sexually abhorrent men. No righteous king would have created a culture so wicked that God would destroy it.

The King of Sodom presided over a nation of men who had lost their manhood. They had taken up a ‘lifestyle’ which cut the gizzards out of their personal moral authority. That is why they could not defend themselves, while a few hundred morally pure men under Abraham’s command could rescue them all. When men live for sex and abandon their calling as real men they also lose their moral might as men.

The King of Sodom had created a nation of wicked men. So it could hardly be argued that he was anything but a wicked king.

Choose Your King

Satan comes to us with all the grandeur of human kingly authority and offers us wealth and all that man could think valuable. But we are to reject that offer, even if it seems we are offending the King.

Christ comes to us with all the grandeur of heavenly kingly authority and challenges us to lay down all for him. We are to run to Him and gladly suffer the loss of all things in order to have Him as our Lord and King.

Abraham had no difficulty in choosing which king he would bow the knee to. But we get tangled up in the compromise of wanting wealth from earthly kings, through certifications, welfare payments, concessions, grants, funding, approvals and the like. We fall down and worship the “kings of Sodom” without realising the spiritual compromise that we enter into.

When we bow the knee to the “heavenly King”, ensuring our devotion to God’s divine leadership in our lives, even shunning the gifts offered us by earthly kings, we remain in the place where God’s blessings can manifest in our lives.

Shortly after Abraham’s sunning of the King of Sodom the city was destroyed and Abraham received the promised heir.

My wish for you is that you escape the destruction of the earthly kings and receive the fullness of God’s promises in your life instead.

What You Want

The insidious Religion of Self has subverted religions around the world. It comes with an innocent sounding question that sets people up for the abandonment of their convictions, moral training and future happiness.

The question is simply, “What do you want?”

What do you Want?

Surely there can be no harm in asking someone what they want! That’s the cleverness of the question. It comes as a simple interest or concern for the person’s happiness or wellbeing. But at its heart there is a much deeper issue.

The underlying assumption is that everyone wants something or other and that the achievement of that something will bring them happiness. The quest for the things we seek at our deepest level is defined by some as the reason for our existence and the greatest motivator.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Surely everyone is questing to be happy. We are to assume that everyone knows what will make them happy. So the game show hosts ask their contestants, “What will you do with the money if you win?” And those who gamble or buy lottery tickets are expressing by their actions that there are things they yet wish to possess which they will gamble to receive.

The things that are sought after are part of the individual’s pursuit of happiness. Materialism teaches that happiness is found in possessions and one of life’s great pleasures is buying the things you want. Thus shopping therapy is promoted as a means of making oneself happy (especially for the women).

Ubiquitous Choice

Underscoring society’s commitment to people’s individual pursuit of happiness and what they want is the ubiquitous quality of ‘choice’. Gone are the days when you could have any colour you wanted as long as it was black (which was Henry Ford’s offer to Model T Ford buyers).

Today’s journey down Shopping Lane is a tantalising encounter with the wonders of choice. Which brings back a frustrating memory that is now stored in the amusing anecdotes folder in my brain.

On one of my earliest trips to the USA I recall walking through an American supermarket in the early hours of the morning, heavily jet-lagged. Someone had to make sure we had breakfast for the family the next morning and, being the man of the family, I drew the short straw. My attempts to find the thing we knew and loved back home in Australia were frustrated by the sheer abundance of needless variety. I did not need the plethora of bread varieties, just the one that was most like what we ate back home. And so on it went.

The battle with choice was overwhelming but my travel addled brain pushed through the ubiquitous choices until I finally came to the checkout. To my utter dismay the lady at the checkout hit me with one more choice, for which I was not ready. “Paper or Plastic?”

It took me many seconds to even comprehend the question let along make a selection. I was “choiced out”, so to speak.

What’s Wrong with What I Want?

Isn’t choice a blessing? Isn’t it a privilege we are allowed to give ourselves and our children, since we have been able to develop such technology and supply lines as to make it possible? What’s wrong with choice anyway?

The problem isn’t choice per se; it’s the underlying worldview that is developed by the focus on what I want. When a person lives for what they want they have made a moral choice about their existence.

You are either living your life as a free, self-gratifying entity or you are living your life with a higher moral quality.

Higher moral qualities may be a desire to serve God, since He created you. It may be to do all you can to benefit your children or others in need. It may be to achieve some purpose that requires self-denial rather than self-indulgence.

Some Examples

A parent of a sick child may desperately ‘want’ a good night’s sleep, but they will stay up all night fighting for their child’s life. The issue for that parent isn’t “What do you want?” but “What must I do to save my child?”

A person who believes God has called them to some mission on His behalf may end up giving up just about all the things they would otherwise ‘want’ if they were self-centred. A person who is devoted to social change may give up their holidays, money, spare time, energies and resources in order to pursue that social outcome.

In each of these examples the higher moral principle requires dedication and self-sacrifice, giving up consideration for “What do I want?” in order to face limitations, frustrations, sacrifice and so on, in achieving the higher purpose.

The Seductive Question

When my children are only ever asked, “What do you wan?” they are programmed to think about their self-indulgent aspirations. They are encouraged in their Religion of Self. If my children were only ever asked, “What does God want you to do?” they would be led to a different view of themselves and a different sense of priority for their lives.

The early and continued encouragement for people to seek out what they want prompts them to a religious position, devoted to the Religion of Self.

The early and continued encouragement of people to seek God’s will for their life leads them to a very different religious focus.

Alternative Communication

When a parent throws away the self- serving question about what the child wants, they can replace it with other questions which lead to a different perception.

“This is what I want you to eat”, signals that the parent has the authority and has made a wise choice for the child. “Even if you don’t like it I want you to eat it up, because it is good for you and I want you to learn to like it, or at least to eat it happily.”

“I am buying you the clothes you need instead of the toy you requested”, signals that the child must develop a mature attitude to their situation, not a position of demanding what they want.

“You cannot do the things you want to until you have finished the chores and study that has been set for you”, signals that the child has responsibilities which are precursors to privileges.

Moving Forward

Listen to yourself. If you hear yourself frequently saying, “What do you want?” then stop and recognise what you are saying in the subtext. Stop promoting the Religion of Self.

Rehearse and apply various expressions which are chosen to prompt yourself and your children to think about responsibility, facing things people don’t like, growing in experience and personal scope and developing godly character.

I really think you should do this, even if you don’t WANT to.

Throwing Your Life Away

How much are you worth? What price do you put on yourself? How cheaply would you sell yourself to someone?

The questions have a certain silliness about them, because we don’t imagine that we will ever sell ourselves. But in fact we have all done so already. We sell ourselves short all the time.

Compromise

Maybe the word ‘compromise’ will give you another notion of how you sell yourself or throw your life away. When you make a compromise, accepting less than you wanted or demanding less of yourself that you could, you have sold yourself short. You have accepted a lesser bid for your time, your personal authority and your life than you could have asked for. Some people sell themselves short, while others sell themselves out altogether.

What Am I Throwing Away?

Have you ever disposed of something only to realise later that is was valuable to you and you should have kept it. This happens often and can be by accident or by ignorance. Maybe you have thrown something away last week and then discovered that you need it this week. Maybe you thought it was broken but it turned out to be in perfect working order.

When you throw yourself away what is it that is at stake? What are you throwing away?

You can throw away your time, investing yourself in something or someone that is just eating you up for no real purpose. A mother might say to her daughter, “If you marry that man you are throwing your life away.” What the mother means is that the man is of no value and so spending a lifetime as his wife is a waste of the bride’s life.

You can throw away your talents and potential. A father might say, “Don’t study that easy course, because you have enough brains to be doing the hard course and getting a better outcome. If you do the easy course you are throwing your life away.”

You can throw away your personal, moral authority. God has given you the ability to stand on His side and do business with all of His authority behind you. But if you compromise with sin and evil you are throwing away that personal moral authority.

The Bidding Begins

Early in life we find ourselves being asked to sell ourselves cheaply. Bids are made for our attention, time, commitment and so on. Take for example a young man who is asked to compromise his morality by listening to a dirty story or looking at sordid pictures. This will cost him his innocence and make him a slave to immoral thoughts and motivations. Surely he would not want such a penalty.

However, most young men do not understand the cost of their compromise, so they are unlikely to hold back because of proper understanding of the consequences.

What will aid the young man is his conscience and the inner sense that this thing he is being asked to do is tainted. The attitudes and actions of those tempting him will signal that there is something a little shameful or illicit in what is being offered.

Another thing that can save this young man is the instruction of his parents never to allow such offensive things into his life. Wise parents will instruct their children to avoid things that enslave lives.

The Highest Bid

If the young man is reluctant to participate at first he will find that the bidding is raised quite quickly. At first it will simply be temptation to do something illicit. When he declines he will find that the stakes are being raised to include his reputation or acceptance in the group.

Those tempting him might suggest that he is weak by being afraid to participate or they may advise him that he is not fit to be included in their company if he is not a willing participant.

If he further declines, then someone might try to sell him on the excitement that is on offer, or assert their own superiority to the man because they have already participated without injury, and so on.

What is happening in such exchanges is that the bidding for the young man’s soul is rising, until the tempters cause him to yield.

Sold

When the young man gives in he is “sold” out. He has settled on a price at which he will trade off who and what he is for something. In the end he may do what he is being tempted to do, not for the thing itself, such as to view pornography, but to keep the friendships which are now at stake.

By this process people are selling themselves all the time.

Not For Sale

The only ones who are not sold out are those who do what God wants them to do in every situation all the time. Those ones will resist every temptation and threat. They will stand alone and stand for God no matter what the cost.

The book of Daniel records that Daniel and his three friends each did this in various ways. The challenge to ‘dare to be a Daniel’ represents the idea of resisting temptation and threats so that the right thing can be done all the time, without fear or favour.

Sold Cheaply

I can think of several school friends who sold themselves cheaply. They readily bought into sensuality, drugs, lying, cheating, irresponsibility and so on. They did it so cheaply that they received nothing in return. They did not hold out for respect, privilege or gain, but hastily jumped into the slime to slide into shame, addiction and worthlessness.

Many people do this, especially if they are without the protection of loving and wise parents who guide them to wise choices and a wise lifestyle.

The Israelites sold themselves cheaply in the days of Jeremiah. They abandoned God and built broken resources for themselves that did not work (Jeremiah 2:12). They were keen to throw away their true value for that which is worthless.

If people think they are worth nothing they see no problem in selling themselves cheaply. Yet every person is of inestimable worth and should never be sold out at all!

Bought Back

The wonderful news is that the sacrifice of Jesus allows us all to be bought back from the hand of those who have enslaved us or bought us cheaply. The Bible uses the word ‘redeem’ to describe this process of paying the price needed so the item is returned.

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

If you have abandoned your personal sovereignty in a vain attempt to get some gain for yourself, like Eve selling herself for nothing in the Garden of Eden, then you need to be redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That was the price paid for your freedom. Make sure you are bought back from the grimy slavery to sin and are given a fresh start to live as a sovereign child of God who can change the world with His grace and power.

The Heart of Your Child

It is vital that you train the heart of your children. However it is popular to ignore this essential process and give in to shallow alternatives. Since many young parents have not thought these issues through I am penning these notes as a guide to parents.

The Heart of the Matter

The most important part of your child’s development is the training of their heart. While we may not be aware of what is going on inside other people, including our children, the Bible tells us that God looks on the heart.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7

God’s prophet, Samuel, did what people naturally do. He looked on external things. God accurately accused men of taking notice of external things – “man looks on the outward appearance”. That is why people have to take ‘first impressions’ seriously and why image is such a big deal for worldly people. It should not be so for those who love and follow God, but sadly appearance and image is a major focus of some churches today.

Since God looks on your child’s heart it is essential that you make it a key focus on your attention.

The Heart of Your Child is Exposed by What Comes Out

Jesus had much to say about what comes out of the heart. He said that we are defiled by what comes out of us. He then listed a bunch of things that find their source in the human heart.

“The words which come out of the mouth come from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” Jesus Christ, Matthew 15:18-19

Jesus is pointing here to both the words people speak and the motivations that lead them to do evil things. So wise parents will be attentive to the spontaneous expressions from their children and also from the behaviour patterns the children display.

A winning smile on the face of a child can be deceptive. Sweet words of promise and nicety may be a cover for wrong intentions. In the same way that adults can be expert at this level of deception, some children know how to play up to their parents’ expectations.

Key Lessons For the Heart

The heart is troubled by the presence of foolishness, which Solomon warns us is bound in the heart of every child (Proverbs 22:15). So it is important for each parent to respect the particular process that God prescribes for removing that foolishness. The prescribed process is to use the rod of correction on the child.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Solomon, Proverbs 22:15

Obedience is a key test of the child’s heart. If a child refuses to obey then they have foolishness. So getting the child to promptly obey the parent is a key heart training process. This involves them submitting to the parent’s authority. In that process they learn to fear the Lord, giving respect to God’s requirement that they obey their parents.

Games and Tricks Don’t Train the Heart

Some parents think that they are doing quite well if they get the desired action from the child. But it is not the action that is the most important. What is important, as we saw earlier, is the heart of the child. God does not look on the outward evidence but on the heart.

If you instruct a child to eat their food and the child is reluctant to obey, then a matter of the heart has been exposed. The child’s rebellious or independent attitude is a more serious matter than the nutritional value of the meal.

Many parents, however, become distracted with the external element, getting the food into the child. They can completely miss the much more serious issue of the child’s heart. Clever parents can resort to games to get the child to eat. “Let’s pretend that the spoon is a train and your mouth is a tunnel. Let the train into the tunnel.”

Such games may be fun, but they set the parent and child up for future pain. The child’s heart is left in a rebellious state, even though all the food is eaten.

The same is true when a parent tricks a child into doing the right thing, or fitting in with the parent’s plans. Games and fun, cute as they may be in the hands of clever parents, have no place in testing or training the child’s heart.

The most mature and complete heart training is evident when there is every reason to disobey or to get away with doing wrong, and yet the person insists and persists in doing what is right.

Tough Choices Make for Strong Character

When parents rescue their children from tough choices they undermine the child’s character. Tough choices make for strong character.

The child who must stand by his post, while others get to do fun things, or taunt him, or who is otherwise suffering in order to be there, will develop much stronger character than the child who is given every opportunity to cheat on their character.

False compassion can prompt some parents to remove the tough choices and hard situations from their child’s life. Such emotion is called ‘false’ compassion because it is not true love at all. It masquerades as compassion but it harms the child, so it cannot be real love.

You are Allowed to Play Games

Please note that I am not saying every moment of your child’s life should be a tough moment with tough choices. There is plenty of room for fun, games and play. You are welcome to play ‘aeroplanes’ and fly the food into your child’s mouth or to make cleaning up the room into a fun race against the clock.

The tough choices are made at strategic moments and are then built upon. But once the tough moment is past it is time for celebration and enjoyment of life. The problem will come when your child is never challenged to learn and their heart is not trained.

Insist that they Learn

Parents, be diligent to ensure that each of your children has learned to obey you, to submit to authority and to fear God. You will need to remain attentive to their heart, through what they say and how that is backed up by the attitudes and actions.

Insist that they learn the lessons. Don’t give in, just because they are crying, or complaining. There is much more at stake than their temporary responses.