If you are going to send your children into battle you need to prepare them to fight.
It’s not just enough to have a one time talk with them where you say, ‘This is really bad. Don’t do that.’ You need to be helping them develop the habits and practices which will enable them to actually fight against the enemy.
We saw, one of those habits is a sacrificial lifestyle.
Another is thanksgiving.
In Ephesians 5:4, Paul says, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place,” but now this is interesting, “but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
Though specifically Paul’s speaking about filthy talk, I think this phrase “let there be thanksgiving” actually refers to both verses and so basically Paul is talking to people who struggle with sexual sin and do you know what his advice is? Be thankful.
Think about that.
Imagine going to someone and saying, “I’m struggling with lust.”
Only to have them say, “Okay, here’s how you fight it: be thankful.”
What is going on there? Why does thanksgiving come into Paul’s mind?
Well, why do we so often struggle with greed and sexual lust and things like that?
It’s because we’re dissatisfied.
We want more, more, more.
Discontentment is at the root and how do you fight that discontentment?
You fight discontentment through a lifestyle of enjoying what God has given you so one of the things that I would say to someone who struggles with sexual lust and is really being beaten by it or greed, covetousness, I would say, “You need to every day make a habit and specifically maybe at a specific time in the day just so you learn to do this better, you need to make a habit of writing down or saying with your mouth a number of different things that you’re thankful for.”
Which of course sounds simple but isn’t for most of us.
We are very poor at being thankful.
With our children we used to say at the end of the day, “What are you thankful for?” And I’m sitting there thinking, “Ah, there must be a million things that you’re thankful for. It was an awesome day.” And my kids are very happy kids and they’ll say, “Yeah, we’re thankful.” And so, I’ll say, “What are you thankful for?” “Mommy. Daddy.” I’m like, “Wow, I’m so glad you’re thankful for us but, man, there was a lot that happened today. Remember, we went to McDonald’s and…” And they say, “Oh yeah, thank you for that.”
But some of us in our spiritual life we’re like children.
If I ask you, “What are you upset about in your life right now?” “I’ve got like 100 things.” That list comes out easy. But what is it that’s causing your heart to just well up and say, “God, you’re good”? And, you know, if you don’t have those things, you’re in a dangerous position because you do have those things. You do have reasons why you should be thankful so if you don’t have thanksgiving come out of your mouth, the problem is not with your circumstances, the problem is with your heart and so what you need to do is develop a discipline of giving thanks to God and noticing how good God has been to you and can I just say that has to be one of the hardest things in the world.
It’s very difficult because, and I think this is important for your children to understand, we are wanting beings.
We are constantly wanting.
We can’t stop wanting.
God made us that way, and I am thankful, I know, that He did. I am glad I have desires. It’s just that those wants got messed up back at the fall. It’s like because of the fall, the wanting part of me is broken, which means sometimes I want the wrong thing, sometimes I want the right thing the wrong way, and sometimes I just keep wanting, when I should be satisfied, and so, because this is true, because I am always wanting, and because my wants are broken, it’s foolish to think that I can overcome my wants simply by getting what I want, you see what I am saying, it doesn’t work that way, if I get what I want, I won’t really be thankful, I will want more, because my wants are not working properly, which is why, as I work with my children, I am so big on thanksgiving, because it’s this habit of noticing and being grateful for what you do have and what you have been given, that is one of the best ways of dealing with broken desires.
The more discontent and whining and grumbling your children are, the more likely they are going to have significant struggles with sexual temptation.
It just goes together.
We need to talk to our children about sexual purity.
What can we learn from Paul?
You need to talk with your children about sexual purity.
While you obviously want to be wise and not give them too much information too young, you also don’t want to be foolish and not talk with them about this aspect of their life, because it matters.
For those conversations about sexual purity to make sense, though, you are going to need to talk about more than just sexual purity. We need to help them understand first what it means to be a Christian. And we need to show them what it looks like to live as a Christian, by being especially serious about sexual purity ourselves.
The only way they’ll understand, why we are so serious, is if we are giving them an eternal perspective.
Heaven and hell need to be words that impact our lives, if our children are going to understand why sexual sins are serious.
In all our talk about the seriousness of sin and heaven and hell and being a Christian, we need to make sure we are helping our children understand the nature of their own heart. And we should try to make the future fight against sexual temptation easier for them by helping them developing habits of self-sacrifice, and thanksgiving.