Yesterday we talked about how the influences of our children can be biblically unwise. I’m not trying to make a list of good and bad influences for our family, like scouts are bad and AWANA is good. That’s not what wisdom is about at all, is it? Instead, I’m trying to think of biblical principles that are going to help me evaluate when an influence is unwise.
Let’s review this, since I wasn’t entirely clear. First we looked at God’s priorities:
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
When it comes to loving our neighbor, we talked about the priority of the local church. Paul reminds us
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).
Then we started to talk about how those activities or friends are actually influencing us and our children. See Proverbs 13:20: He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.) One influence clearly discussed in God’s Word is friendships; we become like our friends. Thus, I want my priorities to reflect the priorities I see in God’s Word. It’s not that we cloister ourselves in a Christian commune, but it seems clear that our closest friends should not be unsaved people.
I want to consider more ways that I can evaluate when activities are influencing us or our children for the worse in a particular situation, but we had a delightful day today with daddy being home, and I’m too tired to do more thinking. I’ll finish these thoughts tomorrow.
I’d like to consider that the age of a child does make a difference in what influences them, and how they are influenced. Because of this, it is not inconsistent to be more protective when a child is young, and gradually teach our children how to respond to the world as they get older. I’m considering first Corinthians 15:33 that says Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Paul warns us not to be deceived because we are easily deceived in this matter.
Last, I’d like to consider that sometimes the good effects of an activity or friendship can be outweighed by the bad. That’s not something we can always determine easily. I guess we need more wisdom.
I’ve also been compiling some questions I’m still pondering. I’ll post those tomorrow, too.
I guess I fall a little more on the “less sheltering” side, though I think we both agree this is an area where parents need to constantly be monitoring their children and the affects others may be having on them. Incidentally, I WANT my kids to play with the neighborhood kids and the children at the park, but I also want to be right there at all times. (So, if my kids want to play on the next-door neighbor’s porch, yes, I go with them and stay with them!) Here’s something I’ve thought a lot about lately, though: I think too much sheltering gives kids the message that the world is more powerful than God. I think of I John 4:4, which was my life verse in public high school, when I was feeling out-of-step with the world. Is God greater than the world? Yes. We don’t need to fear that “they’re going to get us” as we powerlessly come under their force. Of course, our children have not yet accepted Jesus Christ and are not trusting in Him as they face the world, but I want them to learn now to face the world confidently. They’re not going to get US, but we’ll have an impact for Christ on THEM!
Addy– We probably agree more than you think. I don’t think where we fall on the “sheltering side” is as important as whether we are seeking the Lord and obeying His Word. I would point out that for an unregenerate child, “Greater is he that is in us” doesn’t seem to apply. So I am more concerned about an unsaved child than one who demonstrates the work of the Holy Spirit within him.