There is an old episode of Father Knows Best where Bud, the Andersons’ son, has a glowing write up in the local newspaper for his star performance as his High School’s placekicker. Success goes to his head, leading Bud to break the team’s training rules and stay out past 9:00 P.M. His father finds out and urges him to tell his coach. Bud begrudgingly does so, and he becomes convinced that his doing the right thing and being honest would lead the coach to let him off with a warning or look the other way. When he’s told he cannot play that week because of his violation, he sulks and even blames his dad for giving him bad advice. Eventually, Bud takes ownership of his misdeed, has a more humble attitude toward his importance, and even appreciates the decisions of his dad and coach to help him excel as a person more than a player.
Perhaps personal ethics have eroded to the point that many find such advice and subsequent actions preposterous and wrongheaded. The lesson was that actions have consequences and that honesty should be practiced, not for reward but simply because it is right to do so. Trustworthiness and responsibility are the fruits of integrity and uprightness.
These principles, though unstated in that old television show, are thoroughly biblical in nature. Broadly, the Bible praises those of upright heart (Ps. 7:10; 64:10). Psalm 15 says those who walk uprightly, work righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart (2). It is often more difficult to do the right thing than the easier thing, but the path of least resistance does not usually lead us in the right direction. We made each of our boys read Alex Harris’ Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. An overarching principle is that your choices should not be made based on what’s most convenient or least demanding. Character is built when we have the courage of God’s convictions and do what is right, whatever it may seem to cost us in the short-term. Ultimately, we will be better for it and so will the people in our lives!