Tricky Invitations

I love to receive an invitation in the mail. The ones that have the words “You’re Invited” printed on the front are my favorite. They make me feel so welcome.

Some invitations announce wonderful affairs such as opportunities to shower expectant mothers with gifts or occasions to attend a wedding. My children used to love receiving birthday party invitations. You could guess the theme of the party by the design of the card: super heroes, action figures, sports, etc. Each invitation made them feel welcome.

But, not all invitations come in the mail and not every invitation my children received were so obvious, or harmless. As my children grew, they would receive phone calls from friends inviting them to come over to watch a movie, attend a sporting event, or join them for a sleepover.

Now, what am I supposed to do? Invitations used to be so straightforward and easy to understand: The party would last a couple of hours. Parents would hang out in the background. We took an innocent gift and shared a small square of cake and some soda. The biggest decision for my child to make was whether or not he was going to have ice cream with his cake.

These new invitations were vague and ambiguous, and left me with many questions. Would there be parental supervision and can these parents be trusted with my children? Would the planned activity be honoring to God? Would my children make good decisions? I realized that, as much as I had enjoyed feeling like we were each welcome, I now needed to teach my children to distinguish the difference between invitations that they should and should not accept.

In the Old Testament, God taught His people a very important lesson concerning invitations. Numbers 25:1-3 tells us: While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them. Parents, there are many lessons we can learn from this passage of Scripture in helping our children to evaluate personal invitations.

  • The Israelites allowed the influence of the Moabites to move them away from wholehearted devotion to God. Even though God calls us to witness to those who do not know Him, we must be careful that we, as well as our children, are intentionally avoiding being influenced by the world (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  • As a result of the Israelites participating in Moabite practices, the Moabites extended an invitation to God’s people to sacrifice to the Moabite gods. Temptation often begins with an invitation.
  • God’s people chose to accept, rather than decline, the invitation of those who worshipped others gods. Because there can be much more involved than what a simple invitation represents, acceptance of an invitation can create a slippery slope into sinful behavior. In the case of the Israelites, God’s people became sexually immoral, as well as eating and bowing down before other gods in worship. These idolatrous acts were all the result of the acceptance of a personal invitation.
  • Where an invitation can make us feel welcome, acceptance of an invitation says that we want to be included. Because God’s Word teaches that believers are to be sanctified, set apart from the world unto God, we should be careful to decline invitations that might cause us to move away from God (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
  • God does not tolerate disobedience among His people. Therefore, we should consider all the possible consequences that could result from each invitation we receive and choose to accept only those that will honor God.