On a recent visit to a large church in Dallas, I noticed this sign in the restroom stall: “Please Flush.” Really? Has it come to that? We actually spend money to purchase inscribed signs, at church of all places, asking people to remember a most basic task?
I would have been totally appalled at this notion, except I share my house with an eight-year-old boy. And if you share your house with an eight-year-old boy (or probably any boy), you know that even the “basics” are not always obvious to these precious gems. If I had a nickel for every time we went over hand washing, teeth brushing, showering regularly, changing one’s undergarments and bodily function etiquette, well . . . you know.
But then I thought, what does Jesus consider the “basics?” What are the most obvious of things that we miss each day? Where do I need a “please flush” sign posted in my daily life? Similarly, what are those basic concepts he would have us instill in our children? Fear God? Follow Jesus? Pray? Love others?
Galatians 5:22–23 speaks to this issue, listing the fruits (or attributes) that are evident when we daily abide in the Lord, guided by the Holy Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
No, these are not pre-requisites to our salvation — only faith in Jesus can secure that. But Scripture gives us a good reminder of some basics that flow naturally when abiding in, living for, him.
Love – unselfish, unconditional concern for another
Joy – great delight, gladness of heart
Peace – tranquility of soul despite our circumstances
Patience – steadfast endurance and forbearance
Kindness – goodness of heart, gracious, pleasant
Goodness – ready to do good, love in action
Faithfulness – dependable, loyal, worthy of trust
Gentleness – controlled strength, willing to pardon injuries
Self-Control – living in the Spirit and not our fleshly desires
Believe you me, nobody wishes more than I do that I could point my kids to forty-nine places in Scripture where Jesus commands his people to brush their teeth and shower regularly. But instead, he chose to focus on things of eternal priority and significance. The things that should be so basic in our lives that it points others to him.
So what does this look like in practice? If your house resembles mine, consider this quick family audit:
Do we prioritize our time as God would have us do or are we slaves to fleeting activities?
What message are we sending our kids based on what behaviors we choose to discipline?
Do we come down more harshly on our kids for daily annoyances, or are we more concerned with their hearts?
Are we celebrating good grades more than good character?
Do we spend more time at practice than serving those around us?
Do sports take priority over church?
Does prayer get as much time as the Xbox?
Do our kids know scripture, and are we living it out in everyday situations?
Is worshiping the Lord something we only do on Sundays, or do we live a life of worship everyday?
The adage is so true that the days are long, but the years are short. We can’t afford to let time just pass by without being deliberate in teaching our kids the basics of living a life for Christ, affirming them when they do things that reflect his character and correcting when they don’t.
So the next time a raised toilet seat sparks a fury, let’s concentrate that effort on driving home some faith basics with our people. Yes, someone has to marry our sweet boys and basic hygiene has its place. But let’s also post a reminder sign that focuses less on the flushing and more on the fruits, so to speak. Because the one will benefit them in this life, but the other both now and forever.