This was written as a letter by Doug Parkin to eighth-grade boys he teaches in Sunday School.
Most of you are probably aware of the Senate hearings about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the controversy regarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claims about him when they were teenagers. I am not sending this to support either one’s story, but rather to point out something that Ken, Johnny and I as your Sunday School teachers have been trying to explain to you each week.
Each of us wants you to learn from our life experiences and benefit from our life lessons which at times have been learned the hard way. We want our advice to help you avoid the difficulties and consequences we have caused in our own lives by not always making wise decisions.
Whether or not you actually do anything “bad,” which people will definitely remember, or if you just allow yourself to be in places you know you shouldn’t be or with people you know you shouldn’t hang out with, your reputation is built on the decisions that you make even as a young person.
Hanging with the wrong crowd, going to the wrong place, saying the wrong words and/or doing the wrong thing can have consequences that impact your life forever. God promises in 1 John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” In Psalm 103:12, we are promised that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
This world, on the other hand, is not so forgiving.
Both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford have acknowledged that they did things and went places as teenagers that they knew they shouldn’t have. I assure you that neither one ever dreamed that, one day, they and their friends would be brought into the world’s judgment based on the choices they made as youth. Actions do have consequences, sometimes reaching far beyond being scolded or punished by your parents or others. So make your choices wisely.
How do you make wise choices? What does a sports star do to prepare for competition or a soldier to prepare for battle? They train relentlessly in advance of the challenge. They study what others have done in order to succeed. They envision what they may encounter and they have a plan for what they will do in each possible situation. Above all, they never take their eyes off the goal.
As a young person, and hopefully you are also a young Christian, keep your eyes on the goal of always living to please God and reflect Jesus to others. It’s usually not too hard to know what is right. We have Bibles all around us, even on cellphones and computers. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit of God within us, guiding us as much as we choose to allow Him to. We all have access to other Christians whom we see living godly lives. Above all, we all have direct access to God through our prayers in Jesus’ name.
Be aware that whatever you do, someone is always watching, someone is always listening and, in these technology-driven times, someone may be recording. From 1 Thessalonians 4:1 remember this: “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you.”
If you live for Christ, it will be difficult for anyone to legitimately criticize you. In fact, you will find that a Christ-obedient life will bring you more benefits in this life than you would ever expect.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Doug Parkin is executive director of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum Foundation and a member of First Baptist Church in Jackson. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)