Sometimes coincidence brings two events together in such a way as to give a little extra punch to both. In the newspaper there was an article about Julian Lennon’s thoughts on his father, the much idolized and praised John Lennon, member of the Fab Four Beatles. Julian’s comments were anything but praise: “He walked out the bloody door and was never around. I’d admire him on T.V. – listen to his words and opinions. But for someone who was praised for peace and love and wasn’t able to keep that at home, that’s hypocrisy.”
At about the same time, a mother called a T.V. talk show counselor-hostess and said, “My situation is this. I’ve lived with a man I’m not married to for three years. I know it’s not moral and I’m teaching my daughter to do as I say, not as I do. I would be very disappointed if she did what I’m doing.” The mother expected to be praised for her statement. Correctly, I think, the counselor said: “No! You are teaching your daughter to move in with a boyfriend. Your example is more powerful than what you tell her.” This reminds us of the much-used saying, “I can’t hear what you say because what you do speaks so loudly.”
This knowledge has been around for ages, even centuries before the time of Christ, and yet is seldom given much attention. Not only are parents guilty of carelessness about violating the principle, but public school teachers, Bible class teachers, preachers – some with huge T.V. audiences, and politicians contribute to our national confusion of values by their example. When we go from door-to-door in church work one of the most often heard statements is “One thing I do is tell my kids they ought to go to Sunday school and church.” But this is coming from the lips people who never go themselves. And if we convince the kids to come, many of these same parents will not even make the effort to take them! If they really wanted to do right by those children they have brought into the world they would repent of their moral slovenliness, and take them.
One of the most powerful and far-reaching scriptures is found in
I Timothy 4:12, 16. Except for the youth part of it, it could apply to every age bracket. Christians need to apply it and humanity needs to accept the implied responsibility. “Let no man despise thy youth but be thou an example to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity…Take heed to thyself and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee.”
As an anonymous poet said:
“The lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray.
If the sheep go wrong, it will not be long.
“Til the lambs are as wrong as they.”