Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! -Matthew 7:9-11 (NIV)
In a recent post, I discussed the difficult spot of being a lone believer who is traditionally obligated to participate in a pagan ceremony. I had to have what I expected would be a hard discussion with my Buddhist mother about this, regarding my father’s funeral ceremony…but God leveled the mountains into plains.
The next trial would be standing as the lone Christ follower in a service full of nonbelievers. Some would judge that the oldest son, traditionally expected to take a prominent role in the proceedings, was a failure, reflecting on his parents and family.
Though there is pressure to just cave and go with the Buddhist flow here because someone has passed, I had to ask myself: What example am I setting for my son? If I took part in the ceremony, what am I demonstrating to him in worshiping the one true God?
As a parent, we raise our kids by example. And when we are consistent in our convictions in front of our kids and even when they’re not around, we strengthen their moral pillars, as well as ours. If we’re inconsistent, we show that what we believe is not really so defined, and is instead open to flexible interpretation as needed by a given situation.
Think about your situation: would you think it acceptable for your kids to be in it? It’s different when you think about yourself. If my son were in that spot, what would I advise him to do? I can demonstrate it and walk the walk.
That goes not just for the lessons I’m learning here (standing firm in convictions, having hard conversations), but in other aspects of life as well. If I don’t want my son to repeat a cycle of abusive relationships, I shouldn’t demonstrate to him that being abusive, or receiving abuse, is okay. I should show him how to stand up to unjust, God-dishonoring behavior with just, God-honoring responses and actions.
As much as we love our kids, God loves all of us–His children–even more. He gave up His Son for us. Are we not to stick to our guns for Him, as Jesus did for us?