Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Exercising the Will

He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.  Isaiah 7.15

Of all the wonderful powers with which God has endowed man, his will - the power of determining what he does, and so what he is - is the most wonderful.  This is the deepest trait of the divine image.  Just as God was of Himself and not of another, He gave man to a very large extent the power of deciding and making himself.  The mind of man, the soul with all its emotions, man's moral and religious nature - all these have been given for man to make decisions and fashion his own being and destiny for eternity.

The parent has been entrusted with the solemn task of teaching the child how to use his will in the right way.  This delicate instrument is put into the hands of the parents to keep, to direct, and to strengthen.  The parent must train the child to exercise his will for the glory of the God who gave it.  To those who seek wisdom from God to fulfill their task, success is possible and promised.

To combine the greatest degree of personal liberty with perfect obedience is a very delicate problem.  God's Word has more than once taught that obedience is the child's first virtue.  He is to obey, not because he understands or approves, but because the parent commands.  In this he is to become the master of his own will by voluntarily submitting it to a higher authority.  Obedience from this principle will secure a double blessing for the child.  While guiding the will to form right habits, it strengthens the control the child has over his will.  When this has been attained, a sure foundation has been laid for the exercise of the child's free will choosing what appears to him to be best. 

In the first stage of childhood, before the child knows to refuse evil and choose good, simple obedience is law.  It is this that the parent must regard as his highest and most blessed work.  As the child matures, it is still a parent's influence that must train the young will to exercise the power on which everything in his later life depends.  The child must now be trained himself to refuse evil and choose good.

From Raising Your Children for Christ, Andrew Murray, The Child's Will and Conscience

My prayer from the time my children were young was that they would want to obey and not just obey.  I love this lesson on teaching a child to exercise the child's free will.  I believe your child, as Andrew Murray tells us, must learn that they have control over their will and have the power to refuse evil and choose good.

Challenge:  If your child is younger, just be sure they learn to obey you instantly, whether or not they want to.  As your child matures, train them to choose the right way and reject the wrong way.   One good way of doing this is to have them learn the "flick the switch" blog.  Bring them to a light switch and show them the power of the light switch, and then explain how God's power is within them to get rid of darkness by choosing light or the right things.  

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