By Cynthia Carrier
When we go out into the community, I try always to remind the children that we are "salt and light" (see Matthew 5:13-16) - we're on a missionary journey, even if we're just going to the store! As Christ's ambassadors, I tell them, we should look different; people should be able to tell that we know Jesus.
This week, I got to offer the children a good deal of encouragement after a trip to town. I had praised them for working together to get ready for our morning of outings. They did well in trying to help one another in and out of the van, through the parking lots, etc. But the best part was our stop at the bank. We were there a while, waiting in line and then adding many minutes to that because of the counting out of the children's Christmas cash (in small bills, of course).
The teller, a middle-aged gentleman, remarked that he'd never completed a transaction with so many young children present and not been totally annoyed by the children's misbehaviors. His co-worker, an older woman who usually processes our transactions, commented that my children are always well-behaved. I almost laughed out loud when the gentleman said, "You should write a book telling people how to do this with their children!" (Because we have written a book!)
What's the point here? Well, it's nice for me, and for the children, to know that others take notice of our actions and the way that we behave. Although we don't want to look good just for the sake of looking good, we do want to honor God and show ourselves to be "workmen approved" (see 2 Timothy 2:15). And that is the essence of holiness-a character trait that is of value to God and that we should be encouraging in our kids if they are to be spiritually fit.
One of the ways we can help our children pursue holiness is to be diligent in monitoring both our own and our children's associations and encourage friendships with those who share our family's convictions and values. After all, the Bible says, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'" (1 Corinthians 15:33).
And while we cannot remove our children from the world and its influences, we do need to assess both the benefits and risks before allowing our children to go to certain places, participate in some events, and so on. We will sometimes need to make tough decisions about what our children can and cannot do, and we need to stand for what we know is best - even if it's not popular.
Finally, a lesson from our Savior Himself: Jesus did not pray that his followers would be taken from the world, but rather that they would be protected from the evil one (John 17:15). This protection (both physical and spiritual) is key to keeping ourselves and our children walking with the Lord as we go about our business in the world. So pray for your children, that God's Word would be in their hearts to keep them from sin and that God would guard them when you cannot.
God wants us to be set apart for Him, and that means we will do things differently than others. We need to encourage our kids to stay focused on Christ and remember the admonition to "...not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). This call to holy living is not an easy path, but it is a path of blessing: "Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple" (Psalm 65:4).
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