Have you ever been dared to do something you knew you shouldn't? One time I accepted a dare and regretted it. I stole something from a shop to prove to a friend that I could do it. And I kept on stealing until I was caught. Eventually I learned it was stupid to steal. Fortunately the man who caught me didn't call the police, and I was scared enough of getting caught again that I stopped stealing.
A bit later I found a much better reason for not stealing than just not wanting to be caught. I learned from the Bible that God created everyone to be like He is. And the Bible says that God is good. Now I don't steal because I know that being honest is one way to be true to God. One of the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses for his people thousands of years ago, says, "Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15). My friend had been wrong to tempt me to steal, but it was my own decision to accept his dare.
Not all dares are necessarily wrong. Sometimes someone might be trying to encourage you to do something harmless that's worth doing, but that you might hesitate to do-like asking someone you're attracted to out on a date. It's when people feel pressured into doing things they aren't ready to do, or know they shouldn't be doing, that accepting a dare is wrong. This kind of dare might seem like a test of courage or loyalty to friends, but it's not really either of these things. Real courage is the courage to do what you know is right. Real loyalty is doing what is good, whether or not other people say they agree at the time.
Another way of looking at any dare that comes along is as a test of your ability to hear God. Like the Ten Commandments, the words of Christ Jesus help show who God is and who you are. Becoming familiar with the Beatitudes of Jesus and with the rest of what's known as his Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew, chaps. 5-7) helps in living a happy life-one in which you don't hurt other people or upset those who care about you. It's great to listen for the thoughts that God is always sending direct to you to guide you. God's thoughts come as good ideas on how to live. They keep us safe.
Keeping our thoughts open to these ideas-seeing what God is guiding us to do-doesn't mean that it might not still sometimes be hard to avoid taking wrong dares. But anyone who understands that we are each God's image and likeness, as the Bible says in Genesis, will be able to. God is infinitely strong, so we, too, have all the strength needed to make the best decisions and take a clear stand for what is right. (Knowing that would have saved me from doing the wrong thing, and it would also have set an example for my friend, who might not have been clear about what was right and what was wrong.)
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, learned from the Bible how to hear God's Word clearly. She wrote, "Resist evil-error of every sort-and it will flee from you." This is found in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 406). And it's true! I've found that whenever I dare to be obedient to God, evil turns tail.
Jesus found this out when he was alone in the desert. Three times what the Bible calls "the tempter"-evil thoughts-tried to dare him to act against what he had learned from the Scriptures was right. Each time, Jesus refused to go along. After the third time the tempter just left him, and the book of Matthew says, "angels [good ideas] came and ministered unto him" (4:11).
Tempting thoughts may look like they come from a friend or from your own thinking. But if you dare to resist temptation, you'll also find that ideas from God are there to help you.
Again, the devil taketh him up
into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms
of the world . . . and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee,
if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him,
Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship
the Lord thy God, and him only
shalt thou serve.