In our last post, we talked about the Trust Issues that COVID has given us, and our tactic for emerging from the pandemic even stronger than before. These secrets are found in this verse:
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
We covered the first 3 commands in that post, and now we will talk about the last four.
Do Not Stifle the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is so important! Without Him I would be so lost. During this last year we had to make so many decisions. Should we go out in public or order online? Wear a mask or don’t? Attend the event, or skip it? Travel or stay home? Participate in sports or skip the season? School in person or online? And the list goes on. I was so thankful that we had Holy Spirit to help us make those decisions. Without Him, life would have been so much more stressful. I had no idea what to choose, but I asked the One who did.
At different times we felt like Holy Spirit was telling us to slightly change our plans and we obeyed. We are firm believers that He kept us safe during the shutdown. He helped us to make the wisest decision possible. Praying and listening to His voice removed a lot of the stress and anxiety we were feeling in the midst of all the unknown. We should never quench, or extinguish, or stifle Holy Spirit’s voice in our lives!
Oh my goodness!! Never have I lived during a time period where everyone has such a strong opinion and everyone is convinced they are 100% right. I am sure this isn’t the first time in history, but it has been my first experience of this level of discord. Not only was I experiencing this, but my children were too. They were confused on why the opinions varied so much even amongst our family and friends.
Even though it is tempting to brainwash our children into believing that our way is the best, we try to teach our children how to test the ideas and theories and allow them to come up with their own thoughts and opinions. Now of course we did not do this perfectly, but we did try to explain to our children the other side of the story in a light that honors the people’s hearts and motives.
Here are some of the questions we would ask when looking at thoughts, facts and opinions.
- Where is the information coming from? Is the speaker’s source of information reputable and reproducible?
- What can we learn from their opinion, even if we don’t agree with it completely?
- What perspective or experience does the other person have that may be different from our own and may contribute to us having different opinions about an issue?
- Is this a good opportunity for a productive conversation, or just a time to listen and learn about the other person’s perspective?
We also tried to teach our children to play devil’s advocate. (Nathan doesn’t like this term, because he doesn’t want to advocate for the devil. He calls it the Contrarian View.) We pick a side and then try to come up with the arguments and reasons for the other side. This is a common practice in debate teams, and Nathan often does this himself. He purposefully will read articles or statements from the other side. Then as he reads he tries to see if there’s anything that he didn’t consider, and he will look for similarities to his point of view. If there are any similarities, those facts or opinions are probably the closest to the actual truth because both sides are agreeing on them. It also can expose any weak points in your opinion, and the weak points in the other side’s arguments.
Last and most importantly we run the thoughts and opinions past Scripture. Before making a final stance it is so important that we learn to run everything past God. What truths in Scripture apply to this situation? When we take it to the Lord in prayer, what is Holy Spirit revealing to me?
When we have done all this, we then ask Holy Spirit how to proceed. We ask Him how to live out the truths that we believe. We ask Him how to honor, respect and love those who are different from us. The verse says that we aren’t to scoff, but we are to test. We did our best to take our hard conversations and difficult interactions to the Lord and to obey His voice. I want to continue this process as we move past the season of COVID. I want to be willing to hear another’s opinion that is different than mine. I want to learn from their side, do my research, take it to the Lord and then decide how I will proceed. I want my children to do the same.
Hold On To What Is Good
In light of testing everything, it is important that we hold on to what is good. In today’s society it is so important that we know what we believe and we are able to express it in ways that someone could understand. We need to know what we believe and why.
On a slightly different note, COVID has definitely put a lot of things into perspective. We have all realized that we are too busy. We have also realized that there are a lot of really good things we could be doing but we are at our healthiest if we only do what is best. Pausing to ask God if you should say yes or no really does benefit you and the other person the most. Learning how to say no is an important life skill that will allow us to hold on to what is good.
Stay Away From Every Kind of Evil
Evil is all around us. It is aggressive and misleading. It may seem harmless or insignificant at first but really the only way to stay holy is to stay away. We were able to have so many conversations with the kids this last year about all the different decisions they are going to make as they get older. They ranged from lifestyle to activities to relationships to purpose.
Keeping focused on the Lord is the best way to avoid all kinds of evil. Walking with Holy Spirit and obeying His voice will help you avoid Satan’s traps. Explaining the reason behind your decision is one of the best decisions you can make as a parent. When your children understand “The Why” that helps them make healthy and wise decisions when you aren’t around. Helping them set healthy boundaries is also a key in helping them stay away from every kind of evil.
In God We Trust
As we reflect on 2020, Hannah was right! We should have trust issues after this past year! This past year proves that this life can not be trusted. But we have a God who sent Holy Spirit to walk alongside us and He is completely trustworthy. He will comfort us so we can have joy. He will guide us so that we know what to believe. And He will lead us into a life that we can be grateful to live. As we come out of the shutdown and things return to a new normal I don’t want to lose the habits and mindsets we have worked so hard to gain.
What lessons did you learn during quarantine?
When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative-that is, the Holy Spirit-he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.- John 14:26-27
Read John chapters 14-16 for more information on Holy Spirit!!