What IF? I had a teacher that instilled in her class to ask, “What IF?”. Basically, she was teaching us to ‘think it through’. There are those that say, “if only I had”, or “if things were different”, etc. But, what she wanted us to learn was to weigh the consequences. God’s word has many ‘ifs’, too many to list in a short space like a blog. But, here is the idea …
2 Chronicles 7:14
“IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
“IF” … “then”. That is a cause and effect. Throughout the Bible God says, “if” we do something, “then” something will happen. Society has forgotten there are consequences. God expects us to teach our children to THINK through, to be responsible, to understand consequences. This was one of my favorite object lessons in classes at the high schools where I worked. There were teenagers following the crowd, the media, Hollywood. They were not thinking for themselves. IF only their parents had taught them to ‘think through things’, in scenario form, THEN maybe these students would have been making wiser choices. Of course I was not allowed to teach morality. BUT, I was allowed to teach them to think. In fact I was encouraged to engage students in thinking as part of my job.
In almost every class somewhere during the day, students would get into an ‘current issues’ debate. While I could not instigate the debate or ‘throw’ in my views (unless specifically asked), I could interject “WHAT IF?” That would always get things going. Their first question back would always be, “what if WHAT?” At this point I would look at both sides of the discussion and ask them to explain, “what if you are WRONG?” Here are some brief examples from some of the classes to show you how we started (the discussions were much longer of course and they really had to think out why they believed what they believed):
ABORTION: “What if you are wrong?”
ProChoice: “Then they have murdered innocent lives.” ProLife: “A baby will be born”.
JESUS IS LORD: “What if you are wrong?”
Atheist, other religions: “They are going to hell.” Christians: “They have lived a life of service, love, and good.”
PREMARITAL SEX: “What if you are wrong?”
Believe it’s ok: They are adulterers, fornicators, guilt, health risks for nothing etc.
Abstinence until marriage: “They have purity, no guilt, little health risks.
Starting children when they are young to ask “what if they are wrong”, will help them as pre-teens and teens to handle peer pressure and to think on their feet. It will help them as adults to make important decisions, especially when satan* is making everything ‘gray’. When your little one is thinking about doing something wrong and you see them, do not yell “DON’T”. Instead, use our Heavenly Father’s model. “If” …. “then“. (Now obviously, I am not talking about when they are about to reach for a hot curling iron, are touching a sharp tool, or doing anything dangerous.) It is important to instill in them the ability to reason, to question, to make good decisions … to think on their feet. So look at them and tell them they have the opportunity to make a decision like a big boy or girl … tell them to make sure it is a good decision and ask them, “what if you are wrong?”
Use every opportunity you can when your child is disobeying to look at them and tell them they are making a decision. Make them aware of their actions. Tell them IF they continue to not listen and to disobey, THEN you will have to punish them. IF they obey, THEN they reap the good consequences. PLUS, most little children like knowing they pleased their parent. Children like to know their parents are proud of them. Make sure you acknowledge their good decisions and tell them how proud you are of them.
As an adult this should ring true in your life. Daily, we have decisions, choices … some we rationalize and make gray when they are not. God’s word says “IF” … “THEN“. We have decisions to make and God has filled the Bible with the wisdom we need to make those decisions. Yet, like children, many times we CHOOSE to disobey willingly and then whine when we receive the punishment and consequences. Why? WE chose them, not Him. He told us what would happen. God’s word says in Isaiah 5 (and so many other passages) ‘woe be unto you’ when you make wrong choices. Wrong choices, a.k.a. SIN.
Do you have a decision to make today? Talk it out in front of your child. Use it as an opportunity to teach them how to decide. Take every opportunity to show your child and let them watch you asking yourself, “what if I am wrong?” … ‘what if I am right?”
*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t. I refuse to give him any status of importance. He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.