Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stealing and Provocation: What do they have in common?

What do “Thou shall not steal” and “Don’t provoke your children to anger” have in common?

I try to avoid the morning news at all costs. The first news of the day seems to take my mustered inspiration and trample it, as I watch arrest after arrest in my area and abroad. Media just doesn’t take to the adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, just say nothing at all.” Rightly so. If they did, nothing would be reported, for seemingly almost every bit of news has an element of satire and sadness. When I think back to what took me down this initial track of headline avoidance, I believe it started by watching daily, adolescent after adolescent being charged with everything from theft to murder.

Just recently, a young man of college age, I am associated with through family acquaintance, was charged with robbing a pizza delivery man twice and took the pizza to eat in the last robbery. I looked back and took short inventory of what I knew of his up-bringing. Aside from the identity of his real father being revealed to him as an older child, he endured his home life with his mother as man after man was put before his wellbeing. Although this is true, he was the oldest child and was expected to be “a man” in the home. He was eventually put out by the time he was eighteen. He lived from pillar to post, with several family members, in a van for a short period of time and eventually on the streets, all while being a college student. He, unlike many, had unprecedented hope and ambition for his future despite a tumultuous rearing. Now here he is…sitting in the jail. His first television debut has been captured in the frame of a mug shot. My pity for him does him little good. But I think about his life and present disposition. What would provoke an over-comer as he to resort to such a horrible display of wrath? The answer was easy. Hunger! Hunger would provoke many of us to steal, rob, cheat, and every sorted manner of evil. But the underlying reality of a plight of this nature can stem from this simple thought and passage. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NLT

The Bible explicitly admonishes against stealing, robbery, and plundering what is not yours. It also digs into the trenches of the wages of sin which lead to death. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know that. Similarly, it instructs parents to be mindful of the predicament they place their children in. Anger is a multipurpose word that can demonstrate and produce a variety of evil. Neither the sin of provocation or robbery can be omitted for the sake of selfishness or hunger. But there is an initial responsibility parents and adults have to children. As adults, we all play a part in the lives of children we come in contact with. That part can make the difference in their entire path of life.

1 Timothy 5:8 “But those who won’t care, (will not provide), for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” Wow! Which simply means you can be a Christian, but are still worse than an unbelieving person because of your unwillingness to provide.

We shake our head at our children, but as a village, we are much responsible for the anger and frustration so plaguing the young. Denying this and accepting this changes nothing. Only the willingness of our heart to provide all we have to those we love can cause a paradigm shift in our youth. As my husband and I anxiously await the arrival of our daughter, I can’t help but to remember the young people whose faces have lit up over the years because of my approval of them. Small gifts, cards, birthday reminders, and I love you. They all mount up to a hopeful child. They know it is someone that is proud of them. That would expect more of them. That would love them at their worst, even if they have a mug shot on the morning news. Who will you love better today and every day? If you don’t have a child, think of a relative, family friend, mentee- someone in your immediate reach. Your provision of hope and love today could make the difference in how they satisfy their relentless hunger in the future.

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