Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Young and Stupid"

I've heard this excuse one too many times in recent days--most notably by famous athletes Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriguez. For those who are sports fans, I'm sure you've heard these stories already.

Michael Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals just this past summer at the Olympics, was photographed taking a hit from a bong a few weeks ago. And when he addressed the public about it, here is what he said: "I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way."

Alex Rodriguez, arguably the best baseball player of our generation, recently admitted to using steroids to improve his performance from 2001-2003--something that is illegal and a blatant method of cheating. His response in an interview with Peter Gammons? "I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve."

These guys were 23 and 25-ish when they made these terrible decisions. And they still want to pass off their behaviors as those that are just typical and to be expected for someone their age. I can't slam these guys too hard, because I used to try to pass off my sin as anything other than sin and blame it on anything other than my own choices. But their excuses tells us two things about our culture: 1. We have very low expectations of our young people; and 2. We rarely take responsibility for the sins we commit.

As Christians, we need to make sure that we place high expectations on our children and teach them to take responsibility for their sins. Age is never mentioned as an excuse for sin in the Bible. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. We see young people consistently presented as examples of obedience and spiritual maturity. In Proverbs, high standards are placed before young people for their behavior...And we also are taught that when we sin--no matter what our age--we are to confess it and own it as ours, rather than blaming it on something or someone else.

So teach your children or those you minister to at our church to not give in to society's low expectations. If they have the Spirit of God as a believer and have put their faith in Christ, they can be set free from sin and live obediently regardless of age. And teach them to take responsibility. There should be no fear in this, because if we are believers, the shame and condemnation for our sin have already been placed on Christ on the cross. It's only when we openly confess and own our sin that we can truly understand God's forgiveness and be set free from the chains of sin.

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