Points to Ponder: Character Begins at Home

Points to Ponder
Character Begins at Home
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore

With all the talk lately about character, I found the following story to be worth sharing.
When he was six years old, Johnny was with his father when he was stopped for speeding. "It's okay, everybody does it," the father told Johnny.
When Johnny was ten years old and broke his glasses, he heard his mother call the insurance company and report that they were stolen, so the insurance company would pay for a new pair.
In high school, Johnny's coach showed him how to hold on to an opponent's shirt while throwing a block so the referee wouldn't see it.
When he got to college he found he could buy answers to some professor's test or hire certain students to write his term papers for him.
When caught at cheating and expelled from school, Johnny's parents, teachers and friends couldn't believe it. Hadn't they taught him the difference between right and wrong? They had--by example more than by their talk.
I do a lot of my work and studying in "field offices" as I call them (restaurants and coffee shops). I can hear conversations at other tables about the behavior of the president or other leaders, about the hypocrisy of churches and their leadership, and of course, about the various injustices people endure at work. All of these conversations basically come out of one common theme: There is a standard of acceptable behavior and these people are upset that certain others, particularly those in charge of holding up that standard, are doing things which violate it. The irony in all of this is that often we who judge are just as guilty, but in a less direct way. As the Apostle Paul says, "...you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." (Romans 2:1)
For as much as people complain about the moral decline of our nation, the almost non-existent work ethic among workers, and basic lack of honesty and integrity that exists in every profession (including and especially mine), we must ask ourselves: Did this just happen yesterday? Did just a handful of businesses and government leaders, and some Hollywood folks, step up one day and declare a new world order of "anything goes"? Do we think that all of a sudden the world changed and we were stuck with this mess?
It's interesting that so many people are willing to shrug off the moral state of the nation because the economic state has been so good. But that's human nature. Read through the Old Testament and find countless stories of God's people. As soon as their bellies were full, their land at peace, and their economy prospering, they began the moral slide. There's something about being comfortable that nudges us to lower our standards and loosen our restraint. The very disciplines which help to make us prosper are the very things we want to throw off once things are going well.
And so parents don't worry about the little things they do that are poor examples to their children. Leaders in sports and community activities become more consumed with the win and achieving the goal, even if it's at the expense of the very values that teach our kids to succeed in other areas of life as well. It's fascinating to watch the papers and see that no matter how horrific the crime, it's just a matter of a few days before the press has found someone--anyone or anything--other than the perpetrator, who is to blame for the crime. No one is accountable for what is wrong in their own behavior, their own lives, and in their own homes.
But the scary thing is this: all the "little Johnnies" of the world do grow up. They assume leadership positions. One will be our president someday. Others will pastor our churches, teach in the schools, build our cars and roads, and run the country. And all those years of not insisting on standards, of not promoting God's righteousness and living it out before our kids, and of just letting this and that go here and there will come home to roost. And then the prophet Jeremiah's words will ring true for our nation as they did in the once prosperous kingdom of Judah. "An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, the priests rule by their own power, and the people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?" (Jer. 5:30-31).
People complain everyday about the way "society" is going. But just remember who society is; as one old preacher said, "When you point one finger at someone else, you've got four pointing back at you." The foundation of the society begins in the home. The values learned there are lived out in the world.
Now is a good time to reflect on these vital roles which many of you hold. And those who are not moms and dads have a Christian duty of supporting those who are. When someone told Jesus that His mother and brothers were waiting for Him, He replied, "'Who is My mother and who are My brothers?' And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother'" (Matt. 12:48-50).
Because all Christians are related to Christ, we are all related through Christ. If anything is going to turn around in the "society," it's going to be up to the Family of God--US. And as Jesus said, the members of His family are those who are doing the will of God. That means the lives we live, the examples we are, and the standards we uphold all point to Our Father in heaven. Until we, the family of God, start raising our own standards, how can we expect the world to stop lowering theirs?

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.