March 12, 2009
Just Remove It!
“…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Matthew 6:13 (NIV)
This past January, our close friends moved in with us for the weekend when temperatures dropped to the single digits. Frigid weather coupled with their mal-functioning heating system forced the family and their dog out of their house.
As a recent empty-nester, I welcomed the prospect of having children in my home again. And I love dogs. At one point, an opportunity presented itself to teach them a powerful spiritual lesson.
While talking with their mother, I heard the two little people collectively scream out, while giggling, “No! Bad dog.” Their mother and I looked over to see their darling little cocker spaniel on my kitchen table. We removed her from the table. The kids explained, “She does that. We don’t let her, but she does it anyway.”
“Oh?” I walked around the table and pushed each of the chairs up under the table.
“What are you doing?” six year-old Morgan asked.
“I'm removing the temptation.”
“What’s that?” Her crinkled up expression gave away the fact that she was not familiar with my vocabulary.
But her older brother Terrelle was. “You know – like the apple in the garden. That's temptation.”
Morgan nodded, remembering the story. I showed the children how a chair, left out, allowed their doggie to use it as a stepping stool to hop up on the table.
Temptations are like that, I explained – stepping stools to wrong choices…steps to sinful behavior.
Then I added, “Removing temptation helps us all make good choices."
It was a moment for learning spiritual truths. We discussed how removing temptations from our lives could be highly beneficial.
Their mother, who was dieting, chimed in saying, “I’ve removed cake mixes from my grocery list.” Her children’s eyes widened. They understood.
Terrelle immediately jumped in, pouting I might add, “Mommy and Daddy don’t let me have a TV in my room." Yes, because televisions tempt children when they should be sleeping or studying.
“We can’t take mommy’s lap-top into our bedroom either,” Morgan chimed in. Yes, there are many dangerous perils on the internet that threaten young minds.
I thought about my own house-rules set up for my boys as they grew up. Many of them were developed to spare them from temptation:
1. On school nights, quiet time began at the same time every night. Overly-stimulated children don't sleep well, and tired teens fall asleep in class and struggle with self-control.
2. My boys could visit friends only if their friend’s parents were present. Unsupervised teens tend to find trouble.
3. There was no “hanging out” in malls and stores. Loitering leads to boredom, which may lead to overspending, vandalism or shoplifting.
I’m not naïve; I taught high school for years. I know my children faced temptations. As their mom, setting these house-rules helped remove a good portion of the fuel from temptation’s fire. Plus, studies prove children make better choices when parents make clear their expectations and set boundaries.
Keeping this in mind, I accept that no matter how well I tried to parent, my children are inherently sinful. Jesus said, “There is no one good, no not one” (Mark 10:18). But my sons are precious in Jesus’ sight and in mine too.
Just like that cute cocker spaniel, we face temptations to do what we’ve been taught not to. And we must learn to choose right from wrong. But if I can remove even one temptation that might cause me or my children to stumble, we’re one step closer to victory!
Jesus, You asked the Father to “deliver us.” Thank You for teaching me how to pray for my children. Help me guide them in paths of righteousness. Please give me wisdom and resolve to just remove the temptations that would distract my family from Your narrow path. In Your Name I pray, Amen.
For more discussion on removing temptation from children’s lives visit Van’s blog
From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton
Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture by Mary E.DeMuth
Boundaries: When to Say Yes How to Say No by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Too many rules turn a home into a prision ward! Ask God to reveal to you the deal breakers: those activities that will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
Am I a wise mother who understands the battle for my child’s soul or have I refused to deal with the truth that my child is capable of falling into sin?
Am I proactive? Have I considered the paths my children might take and how I will respond to their misguided choices?
James 1:14, "Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” (NLT)
Hebrews 4:15, "For our high priest [Jesus] is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin." (NCV)
© 2009 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 12 March 2009.