Deuteronomy 28:13 “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”
A question that I have on my mind is: How are we (true believers) training our children? Our children are a heritage from the Lord and with that blessing there comes tremendous responsibility.
I often hear how children who have grown up in the church and have gone off to higher education soon lose their faith. This brings another question to my mind and that is: Did they have a faith to begin with to even lose? Or perhaps put another way: Was the faith that they professed a preference (something you prefer over something else) or was it a conviction? There is a difference between the two.
We might ask: What is the difference between a faith that is a conviction and one that is preference? In Daniel chapter 2 we see Daniel interpreting the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had about a statue and what it meant.
In chapter 3 we see a statue being built with the instructions “As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. If one does not bow down and worship the consequences are quite drastic: “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” Daniel 3:5-6
Three young men: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who had been taken captive along with Daniel, were not going to deny their faith. They must have been taught this as young boys by their parents, and before being captured by this pagan king who demanded this loyalty. This loyalty only belongs to Jehovah, the great I AM.
These three men were taken and thrown into the fiery furnace that the king had heated up seven times hotter than usual because of the answer the three men gave to the king. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
What boldness, courage and conviction that these three men had! In this testimony of these three men we see a faith that was a conviction and not a preference. There are four things that we can learn from this to see whether or not our faith is a conviction or a preference.
- First, we see that their faith was unchangeable. No matter how much pressure Nebuchadnezzar placed upon them they did not recant or change. If we find that under pressure from our authorities, or our peers, etc. that we can change what we believe, then I would have to that – that kind of faith is a preference and not a conviction. (verse 15)
- Secondly, they were willing to stand alone. There could have been at least 500 Jews in Babylon at that time. Where were these Jews and what were they doing? They must have been bowing the knee as required by the king. We do not like standing alone, but if we must we must. (verse 12)
- Thirdly, a faith that is a conviction is non-negotiable. When we read verses 16-18 we see that Nebuchadnezzar was trying to negotiate with them but to no gain. If our faith is negotiable then it is a preference and not a conviction.
- Fourthly, a faith that is a conviction does not need to be assured of success before taking a stand. We find that often we can be intimidated by the opposing party (whatever that might be) and so we do not take a stand if it seems that we are the minority. It would be nice to have others stand with us, but if they do not, then the men and women of conviction are willing to stand alone on what they profess to believe.
How do we instill this type of faith in our children? First, we instill it by our example. What do our children see in us? Do they see a faith that is a conviction or one that is preference?
Luke 6:40 tells us: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” In other words, where we are spiritually is how we raise our own children.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
If God has called us to rule and reign with Him then we need to be teaching our children the same. What a responsibility we have!
Hugh Welchel said: “Our salvation is not just a bus ticket to heaven, but an invitation to participate in God’s redemptive plan to rescue humanity and the physical universe.”