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Compound Interest

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.”
This line from C.S Lewis is one of my favourites from ‘Mere Christianity’ because it shows how hard it can be sometimes to see the long term consequences of our actions.  He uses a military metaphor to explain the idea but perhaps it can be better understood by you and me in terms of weight loss or weight gain.

When someone loses weight it’s always the result of daily decisions over time to eat healthy and exercise.  On the other hand, when someone gains weight over time it’s the result of making poor food choices over a long period of time.  A piece of cake with your coffee won’t hurt today or tomorrow, but if you do it every day for six months then you’ll see the results in front of you.

The same principle applies to young people who walk away from Christ and His church when they reach adulthood.  So often when this happens parents and church leaders ask the question “where did we go wrong?” and can’t seem to put their finger on it.  That’s because the steps that lead our children toward a lifelong commitment to Christ and the steps that lead them towards walking away are small.  They didn’t wake up one morning and decide to walk out the door, they’d been shuffling their feet towards the exit over a number of years.

The children who grow up in church and continue to devote their lives to Christ as they move into adulthood are children who are regularly encouraged in their relationship with God by their parents, their teachers and other significant adults.  For those who end up walking away, it’s generally as a result of a daily routine over many years that doesn’t prioritise Jesus.

Now I’m not suggesting parents should point fingers at themselves, or worse, each other when kids decide to walk away from church and I’m not suggesting that we need to insist on a quota for family church attendance, prayers and bible readings.  What I am saying is that our daily relationship with God and how we practice that with our families and faith communities is of the utmost importance to the long term spiritual development of the children he has entrusted us with.  This is not just for parents, it’s for all the adults in a child’s life who claim to be Christian.

The best thing about this is that it’s so easy to do because you only have to do small things.  Small things like saying grace before a meal, and meaning it.  Small things like reading a bible story to our kids because we love and value the bible.  Small things like listening to God’s prompting to when He provides opportunity to teach our kids one of His truths.  These small adjustments over time mean that one day, as a family “you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.” (C.S. Lewis)


Paul Riessen, 17/06/2014