“Those who mislead the upright into evil ways will fall into pits of their own making, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.”
Proverbs 28:10 (NRSV)
Looking back on our childhood, we may recall many days as being blissful and when we seemingly did not have a care in the world. But if we think hard enough, we may recall some days when we had some difficult decisions to make at that early age. Some days that come to mind are those when the rules our parents laid down for us were challenged by our playmates or friends.
A typical scenario: Your parents taught you not to play with matches. A friend suggests that it would be great to build a campfire. You tell your friend what your parents have said about playing with matches and how fires can get out of control and how property can be damaged and injuries incurred. Your friend tells you that will not happen to you. “You Are too smart and are very cautious.” “You won’t get burned.” “You can control a little old fire.” Your friend keeps flattering you. Your friend brings the conversation back to building a campfire as you have tried to change the subject and to obey your parents. Finally, you give in, go get some matches, and build a small campfire in an adjacent lot. The wind kicks up. The campfire gets bigger and begins to spread. Fortunately your father arrives in the nick of time to put out the fire and to prevent it from scorching more of the surrounding area. Now the friend was not really evil, but he was just as mischievous as the son, who succumbed to being cajoled and dared. The father suggested the friend be on his way home and the son was escorted into his home to face the consequences of childhood disobedience.
As important as it was for the son to learn the lesson about playing with matches and fires, it was equally important for him to learn that parents don’t make up rules and enforce them for the purpose of restricting their children’s freedom. They want to keep their children safe, teach responsibility and instill respect for others’ property. It is also important for the child to learn at that early age to resist being cajoled and dared then. As one grows older such temptations continue and resisting them then may be even more difficult, so it is important to learn that lesson early.
O Lord, guard us when we are tempted to follow another way rather than Your way. Just saying, “No,” can be quite difficult, but that is an answer we often need to give when we are cajoled or dared so we need Your strength. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.