It’s not easy to be a parent in this day and age.
Nor is it easy to be a school teacher or even a police officer!
Simple requests, like “Would you please be still?” Are often ignored, or worse yet, they become triggers for even less desirable behavior.
This causes many of us to begin to insist: “Be still!” At this point, the child will generally look up at you with quasi-innocent eyes. Deep in his mind he must be thinking “You’re kidding me, right?” And while you are still looking in his eyes, he does whatever you don’t want him to do again!
It’s time to use the next secret weapon: Threats!
But even threats are ignored or interpreted quite differently in those little brains.
“Why can’t you be like your brother” means “What’s wrong with you?” The child has no idea. He thought you were the expert!
“If you won’t do this, there won’t be any Christmas” is perceived as “I don’t know how to make you do what I want you to do.” But then, that’s not really the child’s problem, is it?
“Do you want to loose your allowance?” (Ouch, that must hurt!) But the child only understands: “I am at my wit’s end.” Intriguing!
“Do you see that soap bar (better not say no!)? Do you have any idea what I will do with it?” Although this proposes a possible interesting experiment the child only understands the following: “Your underwear or one of your other body parts smell!”
Ever noticed that the more we try to be in control, the more we lose control? Threats don’t work, and interestingly, the Bible encourages us to not even use them!
Eph 6:9 “Do not threaten them…” NIV
Instead the Bible encourages us to Eph 6:10 “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” NIV
Rather than making empty threats, we should follow God’s example. He gives us the power of choice, and He never attaches any threats. Nowhere in the Bible can you find a conversation between Adam and God where God threatens Adam:
“You better not touch the forbidden tree, otherwise I will zap you! You can be assured that I will make your life miserable and will torture your remaining days on this planet!”
Yet despite this, Adam and Eve knew of the consequences of disobedience and had the choice to act on it or not.
Their disobedience (as well as ours!) led Jesus to pay their penalty (as well as ours!) when He died on a cross, so that we could be reconciled with a God, who was, and is, madly in love with each one of us.
However God doesn’t force His grace upon us. We still have the power of choice. Either we accept Him into our lives and start experiencing real living through Him, or we ignore His plea and continue living as if He didn’t exist.
“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” (1 Thess 5:10 NIV)
Instead of reducing ourselves to empty threats, let’s rely on God and “be strong” in Him! You will be amazed as His peace overtakes you.
Choice is the Godly way to go. Sooner or later we end up making our own choices anyway: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15 NIV)
“Don’t get too close to me or I’ll sic my golden retriever on you!”
Wait a minute! That’s not even a threat!
(To access the entire “When Temptation Looms” devotional series, please click here.)