I dare you!" Have you ever said that? Has anyone ever said it to you? The words "I dare you" are powerful, especially to insecure young people, and especially to boys. Children want approval--to fit in--and are easily tempted to do foolish and foolhardy things when they feel they must prove their courage, toughness, allegiance or some other virtue or vice by passing a silly, arbitrary test. Kids will often give in to such coercion and go against their consciences or normal restraints in order to prove something, such as their not being a "sissy" or "chicken." Some kids feel compelled to do this over and over again, and become regular daredevils.
She said "I dare you" and...crash!
Funny how clearly we remember some things in the past. Many years ago, I had a new bike--maroon and beautiful! For a while, my brother and I were getting our thrills by riding over a big pile of dirt beside a depression where a house had burned to the ground. With a good run at the pile, you could "get a little air" and then ride through the dugout that once was a basement.
Then along came a girl--a very pretty girl--who said "I dare you." "I dare you to ride as fast as you can over the pile." Well, I thought I was a hotshot rider, and there were six or seven onlookers who heard the dare. So like most boys presented with a dare from a pretty girl, I took off like a shot! My legs were going so fast, I imagined myself launching like a rocket, shouting a "Whoop!" and gracefully clearing the hole while my awestruck audience broke into applause.
Some rocket! I was as graceful as a rock or a newly shot duck! I did not defy gravity. I crashed! Gravity and my lack of circus skills denied me my glory. The only smart thing I did was when I was losing control (which was during the first millisecond of flight)--I kicked the bike away so I wouldn't fall on it. I was glad I didn't get hurt, but my pride was sorely wounded. Embarrassed, I just stood there, grinning like an idiot. Needless to say, I was much more careful about taking dares after that, pretty girl or not.
Beware of the dare
Growing up these days can be like walking a gauntlet of "dares." Teens who have the keys to Dad's car are vulnerable to "I dare you." The higher percentage of accidents by teen drivers within a few months of their newly gained freedom is why their insurance rates are so high. All too often there is someone around they are trying to impress. Children need ongoing education warning of the dangers and temptations of life, warning that others will dare them or coax them to do what is sinful or foolish and explaining how they can answer and respond to the tempters.
Children need to be taught
One of the main problems that children--and some childish adults--have is a lack of judgment (which should include a healthy fear). Adults (parents especially) have the responsibility to teach the younger generation. "Train up a child in the way he should go," we're told in Proverbs 22:6.
It is a huge responsibility to care for a child from the moment he is born until he matures. Children are greatly blessed when they have a good relationship with their parents who both are teaching them biblical truths and how to have their own relationship with God. Our family was fortunate in that area. Actually our whole town took part in training the children. Life was a little easier then, and the children grew up with far fewer confused thought patterns. We had absolutes rather than ambiguities.
The biblical book of Proverbs is a gold mine of wisdom. By example, it also shows how to teach wisdom--a loving approach with vivid illustrations--like a parent having heart-to-heart talks with his child. Parents will do well to read it for their own wisdom and as well as read it and explain it to their children. The content is very practical for everyday applications.
Along with the biblically-based teaching, wise parents also know to gradually give children increasing freedom to make their own decisions as they grow up, allowing them to make small harmless mistakes that they will learn by. That combination will help youngsters gain wisdom, confidence, responsibility, self-control and decision-making abilities, which are key marks of maturity. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn in the safety of one's home. Under wise guidance, children usually survive their childhood with little more than some bumps and bruises. A little damaged pride here and there usually heals without scars. Slow learners or no learners are destined to live a life of regret and/or pain that could have been avoided. With self-control and correct standards, life can be fun every day, all day.
Adults are also faced with dares
Adults are frequently tempted to respond to dares also! Dares are more common than we tend to think since they come at us in many subtle as well as not-so-subtle ways. Life is full of people and influences that dare you to do things that are for their profit or pleasure, not for your benefit! Since we humans tend to be driven by vanity and ego, we are sort of programmed to take dares. Pride makes us do foolish things. Wisdom and maturity lead us to safety.
Life is largely about choices and decisions. The Bible is full of exhortations to flee temptations, avoid bad influences and foolish companions and say no to sin. "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent" (Proverbs 1:10). Don't go! Be on guard. It is so easy to let someone influence us to make a wrong decision and do something foolish.
Satan dares us to do evil
We are not usually aware of the cunning spirit beings behind the scenes that plot and prompt the dares and enticements. God has allowed Satan and his demons to temporarily blind people's minds to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). At one time, Satan was Lucifer, one of the greatest angels (Isaiah 14:12-14). He led one third of the angels in sin and rebellion against God, and now he is intent on causing people to rebel against their Creator and against all that God says is right. The story of Satan's influence over humans began in the Garden of Eden. The serpent enticed Eve to take of the forbidden fruit. You can almost hear him say, "I dare you."
We are told the story of Satan, in a sense, daring David to number Israel in 1 Chronicles 21:1. A classic case of daring someone to do evil is Satan tempting Christ (Matthew 4). We ought to remember that the forces of evil are just as dangerous today. People who are spiritually immature and ignorant of the laws and ways of God are easy picking for the crafty devil and his demons. But those who choose to consistently obey God and live His way of life, even if it costs them their physical lives, are blessed by God and will be given the gift of eternal life (Matthew 10:38-39).
Right and wrong kinds of dares
Don't just go along with the crowd or a supposed "friend" who would influence you to do what may hurt you in the long run. Always take the time to think before you leap. If you are a parent, teach your children to think and to think long-term. If you are a child, remember that your parents love you and have your best interests at heart. And may we all remember that God has our best interests at heart. He knows what is best for us.
Dare to stand up for what is right. Dare to stand up to bad peer pressures. Have the courage to suffer wrongfully for choosing what is right. Dare to run risks and make sacrifices to do what pleases God. Choose the right path. Do the right thing.
But when someone or some influence dares you to do something foolish, don't you dare do it!