As adults, we look for ways to protect our youth. We protect them harm, abuse, bullying, drugs and all kinds of hazards. We can, should, and must look for ways to equip them for the perils that will cross their path. We can try to shelter them from harm, but we will find that the danger our children face cannot always be kept at bay. Scripture tells us:
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
We must equip our young people to function wisely in the world and to know good from evil. Good parenting is not simply about putting up boundaries and high walls—protecting our children from the external dangers of this world. Wise parenting also helps children understand that there is also danger from within. Sin resides in the heart and is not easily visible. Every person—loved ones, trusted friends and acquaintances, respectable individuals with whom we live and work—is capable of being led astray into destructive choices. This includes your own children.
In 2004, M. Night Shyamalan produced the movie The Village. It is a story of a group of adults who, after experiencing their own victimization and suffering, decided to withdraw from the outside world in order to protect themselves and their families from future harm. A village was created and was purposely surrounded by a forest filled with evil creatures, which kept their villagers contained and “safe” from the outside world.
In a desire to escape the tragedy and evils of the outside world, they created their own protected environment, believing the lie that evil exists “out there” beyond themselves. They quickly find out the evil they sought to avoid existed within the very walls they built. Indeed, it existed within them. Being ill-equipped for this reality led to devastating consequences.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in The Gulag Archipelago (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), says it like this: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts.”
Jesus tells us, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21–22). Yes, each of us is vulnerable to evil happening to us, but we are also each capable of allowing it to take root in us. Our children need to be taught to guard their hearts, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). James reminds us about the slippery slope of giving in to sinful desires: “ . . . desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15). We will fail our children if we only shelter them from the external perils of this world and do not foster in them a conviction to guard themselves from corruption.
We can try to keep evil far from us, but we will fail because of the pervasive nature of sin and evil. Your children will be tempted by their own wrong desires. Just like you, they will sometimes fall. They will sometimes go in the wrong direction. But this is the very issue that the gospel of Jesus Christ addresses. Jesus died on a cruel cross because we are all sinners. On that cross, all of our sins were forgiven—the sins of parents and children alike. Isaiah 53:6 says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” We have been rescued from ourselves—and continue to be. We and our families have been given a Helper and Comforter who transforms hearts and minds—places that no one else can go.
Our ultimate safety, and our children’s safety, will be found in trusting a faithful Father who has rescued us and continues to rescue us. Even as protect our children from the dangers in this world, remember the good news that you have to share with your children—that Jesus Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Then together you can remember that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Adapted from Safeguards: Shielding Our Homes and Equipping Our Kids ©2022 by Julie Lowe. Used by permission of New Growth Press. May not be reproduced without prior written permission.
Safeguards: Shielding Our Homes and Equipping Our Kids
Julie Lowe helps parents and caregivers teach the safety skills that will help protect their children from mistreatment, unsafe situations, violence, bullying, cyber-crimes, predatory behavior, sexting, abuse, and other kinds of danger that they might encounter. The safety skills that are needed at every stage—preschool, elementary-age, teens, and college-bound—are discussed and applied in an age-appropriate way.