In my years as a ministry leader, I have found a few words that I favor. Preclude is one of them. The formal definition of preclude is to prevent from happening; make impossible. Often for the sake of effective ministry, I have asked the Question: How can we preclude _______? Asking the preclude question before a specific situation arises has often kept the proper flow of ministry in tact. Precluding pitfalls is a recipe for mission success rather than mission failure. Today, I ask the most important preclude question of all. How can we preclude pitfalls in the lives of our children? How can we best support their faith prosperity? The truth is that we cannot assure that our children will makes wise and godly decisions at every pitfall intersection. We can, however, trust the One who has the greatest investment in our faith legacy. The Lord can make the impossible possible. Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37).
In my own life, God used Matthew 5:16 to help me avoid pitfalls. Therefore, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven. I first heard these words of Jesus in a sermon at my childhood church. Gratefully, this precept of the Bible found a fertile place to be planted in my heart. I can recall several instances in my teenage and adult years when this verse inspired me to willfully preclude a wrong choice.
It is readily apparent that the pits our young face are broader, deeper, wider, and riskier than ever before. Assimilating God’s Word into their hearts helps to avoid pitfalls because it gives them a God standard instead of a world standard. Let me share with you some God standard action steps:
• Pray that the hearts of your offspring will be fertile ground for God’s Word.
• Educate your children about the long-term damage of wrong choices—especially in the areas of relationships, morality, social media and internet use, and substance abuse.
• Be proactive in cultivating faith in your children and their immediate peers.
• Teach your children to distinguish between good and evil.
• Demonstrate in your own life deeds done for the glory of God.
The Bible says in 1 John 1:5: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. There is no dusk in God. There are no gray areas in God’s Word. Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12). Devote yourself to walking in the light of Jesus. Such a walk serves to preclude pitfalls. May it be so in our lives and in the lives of our precious next generation.
OPP (opportunity for faith action): Introduce Matthew 5:16 into your family. For the little ones, sing the “this little light of mine…let it shine…” song to them. Talk with your early teens about how and why to use Matthew 5:16 as a godly standard for making choices. Encourage the pre-adults in your home to memorize Matthew 5:16 and to read it in the context of Matthew 5:1-16. Perhaps it will become their life verse as it has been mine. Has Matthew 5:16 been a meaningful verse for you? I would love to hear about it!
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Picture: Sunset. Ko Olina, O’ahu, Hawaii