Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. – 2 Kings 12:2-3
It can be a startling wake up call for our children the first time they encounter the blatant sinfulness in the world. Usually they will already know that people can be mean or selfish or insensitive, but when they face cruelty or violence or spite, it can be overwhelming. Sadly, some children grow up around the full-blown brokenness of the world, but that is another issue. It is the children that raised in light of God’s presence, surrounded by love, mercy and grace that can be startled by this revelation of badness. Children, for the most part, assume that the way their life is reflects the reality of everyone and when they find out this isn’t true, they will struggle.
Since Joash was living the right way, we may ask why wasn’t everyone else? If the king has turned to God and been instructed in the ways of righteousness, why would his subjects remain disobedient and sinful? The answer is simple and yet difficult to deal with: people can choose and we can’t choose for them. Even with the power of the kingdom and God behind him, Joash couldn’t make people obedient, righteous and holy. Our children will need help to understand that the way they live their life is more important than trying to make others live life the same way.
Joash could have used violence or coercion, but there is no repentance or responsibility from the people in that scenario. The key to changing the world is personal responsibility. Teaching our children that they are responsible to live a life that is “right in the eyes of the Lord” is far more important than trying to change the world around them. Helping them to live a right life in a wrong world will equip them for many times they will face the brokenness in school and work and play. We can teach them about courage, hope and the power of the Holy Spirit equipping them for this life. We can show them the men and women throughout Scripture who lived holy lives in an unholy world among unholy cultures. We can teach them about the life of Christ shining through them into the darkness of their world.
Lord, help me to educate my children to understand the brokenness of the world and Your call to them to be holy. May they bring wholeness and healing to the broken places and people you have placed them. Help them see the brokenness of this world through the hope and love only You can bring. Amen.