Do you teach your children that they can make good choices or bad choices? If you do, I encourage you to reconsider that question. Let me explain.
What makes a good choice? What makes a bad choice? I have heard it explained this way: “A good choice is good for you. A bad choice is bad for you.” Does that mean that a good choice makes you feel good and a bad choice makes you feel bad? Would smoking pot be a good choice?
Does it mean that a good choice helps you and a bad choice hurts you? Maybe lying saves you from a spanking—good choice or bad choice? Maybe cheating helps you pass a test—good choice or bad choice?
What do you mean when you say good?
Isaiah 5:20-21 “ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” In our own generation, as in Isaiah’s time, people use these terms to suit their own ends.
How we explain good and evil or good and bad makes a difference. If we allow our culture to tell us good from bad, we might end up choosing what is good in the moment but bad in the long run. What if it is good for me but bad for everyone else? I remember taking one of my kids to a birthday party when he was small. The little honoree wanted everything. He wanted the gifts, he wanted the prizes in every game, he wanted all the favors. Good choice? He thought so.
This is important because we parents teach our children what “good” means. At the risk of being overly simple, here’s what I recommend that you teach your children:
“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and
that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
For the LORD is your life. . .”
The Lord is good. What pleases him is good. His ways are good. He is what life is all about. He is life.
So we need to train our children to ask themselves this question: Does God say this is a good choice? Is this what he wants? Will Jesus be pleased? We can train them to make Jesus and his word the standard. We train them to think that way by asking them that question and by exposing them to his word regularly. There really is no other choice; to choose God is to choose life. The alternative is death, and that’s no choice at all.
Having said this, I don’t recommend that you ask this question “immediately” in every situation. First, listen and get the facts. Probe with questions to try to understand what was in the heart of your child, perhaps acknowledging her feelings. In other words, demonstrate your care and love first. Then your target question is the one that moves her and you toward God. When we choose Him, we choose life. There is no good apart from Him.
“Now choose life so that you and your children may live.”