Idle Threats

orange food truck
Photo by Artem Saranin on

Last night we had a Food Truck Festival in the heart of our city’s downtown. I couldn’t tell you how many people were there, but long lines at any of the 40-50 food trucks were good evidence that half the city (and thousands from other cities) were present. The streets were crazy. Everyone was bumping into everyone as people decided between chicken wings, BBQ, tacos or a myriad of other foods.

Steve, my son-in-law and I, were meandering through the crowds when we saw a a little boy – maybe five or six, darting around people gingerly carrying their cardboard bowls, overflowing with nachos, gyros, and chicken wings. The boy’s mom dragged behind. She did not look too excited about the food or the people, and especially not about chasing her son. So she yelled, “Go ahead, get lost. But if you do, we’re not taking the time to look for you and take you home. You’ll stay lost forever.”

Steve and I looked at each other. “We know THAT won’t happen,” I commented, “Idle threat.”

He agreed (and also thought it would be a good name for a band).

We’ve all heard people give kids idle threats (and I’m sure most of us have done so ourselves.) That quick, threatening statement said to invoke fear into a young child and get them to behave.

Unfortunately, kids pick up on idle threats and soon don’t listen to them at all.

“If you don’t stop screaming, we’re leaving the store and going home right now.”    Except Mom still has stuff to buy and won’t be leaving until she’s got it.

“You can stop whining, because you won’t be getting that toy.” Except the child knows if he whines enough, he will get a toy.

“Come here RIGHT NOW!” Child laughs and runs the other way.

Children are smart and understand the language of idle threats.

Our heavenly Father does not make idle threats. His words are never empty, nor manipulative.

But people (maybe because we’re so used to idle threats) sometimes think He does.

Our heavenly Father says:

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,                                                                                                                        

Ephesians 2:8-9 –  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


People say:

“Everyone believes in the same God, as long as they’re sincere.”

“No way Grandma isn’t going to heaven, she’s the best person I know. She spent her life helping others.”

“I’ll take my chances. I can’t believe a loving God wouldn’t let me into heaven.”

N.O. Our heavenly Father does NOT make idle threats. We need to teach our kids, that we can ALWAYS believe what He says. We can explain that what He says, because what He says, He says with clarity.

That mom walking through the crowd was not really planning on leaving her child at the Food Truck Festival (I hope!). She did not mean what she said. But our heavenly Father ALWAYS means what He says.

Let’s consider it a privilege to teach our kids to pay attention to God’s Word.




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