Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words
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!
A seat in coach may look fine until you see the people in first class with their seats that lay flat, who get chef-catered meals, and the like. That cell phone is adequate, but then you see the newest, smartest one on the market. It can be the difference between the GM beater and that brand new Gallardo. Most people, given the choice and especially if changing is advantageous, would choose the new over the old. Spiritually, that is definitely the choice to make–old man to new man (Eph. 4:22-24). But have you made the upgrade? Here are five tests to take to determine this.
Your Talk (Eph 4:25). Lay aside falsehood and speak truth to your neighbor because you care about him or her. How is your speech–deceptive, half-true, distorted, manipulative? Or are you transparent and truthful?
Your Temper (Eph 4:26). This does not mean free of anger, but it does mean a self-control that keeps anger from becoming sinful and wrathful. How is your temper–short, hot? Or are you calm and patient?
Your Tempter (Eph 4:27). Everyone has the same tempter. He is prowling and waiting for a way into our lives. Are you giving him opportunity or preventing such?
Your Trustworthiness (Eph 4:28). The contrast here is between stealing and honest labor, not taking but finding a way to give to the one in need. Do you earn or destroy trust?
Your Tastefulness (Eph 4:29). Paul has already addressed speech, but this is not about honesty or dishonesty. This is about wholesome words and strengthening speech, that which is timely, uplifting, and gracious. Are we savory salt or “poison” (Js. 3:8)?
Whatever you get, buy, or are given in this world, make sure you get that upgrade! Throw out the old! Pursue the new!