I happened on a British show this afternoon (on You Tube) that has an interesting concept. Three sets of parents try to guess how their kids will react in a given situation. The kids (from ages approximately 5-7) are taken to a real-life place and asked to do certain tasks like eat an unusual food, feed an animal … or absolutely obey the adult in charge. Meanwhile the parents have to predict how the child will react. The hosts assures the parents that there are no right or wrong answers. The premise is more about whether the parents can predict what the child will do. Guess what? This isn’t as easy as it sounds no matter how well you know your child! Some were happily surprised at their child’s choices. Others weren’t so proud.
But one episode in particular caught my attention. The show host took the kids into a room one at a time and told them to sit at the table. In the center of the table were three boxes all with prizes inside. The host gave some clues and when the child guessed the prize, the host lifted the box up and gave the child what was inside. She also did that with the second box. The kids were now excited to see what was in the larger third box.
“We’ll get to the cool surprise in the third box,” the host said, “but first I need to do something for about 10 minutes. Don’t peek! Promise?” The children all promised that they wouldn’t and she went out of the room. The first two (whose parents thought they would look) didn’t, even though you could tell it was difficult for them. One little girl walked around the room mumbling to herself, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it.” But both of these children obeyed.
But the third little girl (whose parents thought she would resist temptation) walked around and around, staring at the box. If her facial expression had a label, it would be personified temptation.
You could tell she was wearing down. She went over and tapped on the box. Then she pushed it just a teeny, tiny bit. Finally, she couldn’t stand it any longer. She cautiously lifted a corner.
Oops! She immediately knew that wasn’t such a good thing to do as she watched a couple thousand M&M-type candies spill out of the box, cover the table and plip-plop on the floor.
Frantically, she turned the box over and began grabbing handfuls of candies and throwing them back in. Every other fistful of candy went into her mouth. You could see the panic in her face. No way would she be able to cover up that she had peeked, but she was going to try with every smidgen of energy within her.
She wouldn’t make it.
But now she had a plan.
The show host walked back in. The girl looked at her and said simply, “The box fell over.”
Although the girl’s panic produced a lot of laughs (and it was kind of funny to see her face when the candy exploded out of the box.) I immediately thought of the temptation in our own lives. We see it. We know it’s there. We temporarily avoid it, but then go back to thinking about it, justifying it … and finally deciding “Just one little peek. That’s all. Then I’ll stop.”
How many times have we “lifted the corner” on sin, explaining our actions (at least to ourselves and maybe to God) that we won’t go any further than that? But once we give ourselves permission to have access, the sin becomes a lot more doable.
We lift the box and watch one more inappropriate movie, or tell one more inappropriate joke or cheat one more time on a work report. Once we open that box, everything gets easier and soon the sin has overtaken our lives just like the candy overtook the child’s life. And when she couldn’t right her wrong, we went a step further and lied.
We need to teach our kids that “opening the box” to sin is never a good ides.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. (James 1:14-16)
Once we make the choice to disobey God, we can’t backtrack. Yes, our sins were forgiven on the cross, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to talk it over with the Lord and get back on a forward track. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to right the wrong (pick up the candy and return it to the box). That doesn’t mean that humanly we don’t have apologies to make (to the host who told the child not to peek in the first place).
The old, familiar object lesson that’s often used is having a child squeeze toothpaste out of the tube and then attempt to get it back inside again. This is a good illustration because it clearly shows that backtracking doesn’t work. Why not do the toothpaste experiment with your children (personal kids or ministry kids) and talk about the importance of NOT “lifting the box” for even a tiny step into sin.
(Or you could show your kids the YouTube video of the girl who literally lifted the box. Comes about 7:55 in the video.)