I’ve heard that a girl gets her view of God from her father. For some of us that’s not a good thing. For others, like me it turns out to be a wonderful gift. My daddy has been the most influential person in my life. Without him I wouldn’t be. Without his love I wouldn’t fully understand the love of God. Without the discipline he meted out I wouldn’t know the security of limits or understand the importance of a disciplined life. Almost everything he taught me fits into one of three categories.
The first thing he taught me was decision making. To live a successful life we must determine right from wrong, the best from the not-so-good. By example my dad taught me a simple rule of thumb. Every decision in life should be made based on the absolute principles found in God’s Word, the Bible. That may sound simplistic but it isn’t. Or maybe it is.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” covers a lot of decisions about how to act toward others (more on that later). Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. . . that gives the skinny on what to do if someone hurts you. “…Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” That one covers all of the bad things we can do to our bodies. What about money decisions? It’s there. There are principles for marriage, for work ethics, for raising children, dealing with employees and employers, friends, enemies—it’s all there. Over and over my dad would point out what was wrong with a situation, why—using the Bible principle—and what would be a better approach. He didn’t focus on a list of do’s and don’ts, just Bible principles.
Oh sure, there are definite do’s and don’ts in the Bible but often there are grey areas, things that aren’t so clearly spelled out. My dad taught us—from Bible principles, of course—a few questions you can ask yourself when in a quandary. First, will it glorify God? If the answer is no, don’t do it. This is found in I Corinthians 10:31, “whether ye eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. . . Secondly, can I do this thing and still be a good example to others, or will I be a stumbling block? Paul addressed this in I Corinthians 8:9, 12. Maybe it’s not specifically banned in the Bible but someone will take offense. Or, they may follow your example, and it causes them harm. The third area is more personal. Will it edify me, or build me up? Does this activity make me a better friend, daughter, wife, sister? Does it help me grow or will it drag me down? This is addressed in I Corinthians 10:23. So, armed with the specific Biblical principles and these three questions my dad sent me out into the world.
The second category of truths learned from my Dad’s life is how to treat other people. He knows what he believes, why he believes it, and he does his best to live it. This gives him a consistent walk which is demonstrated through the fruits of the spirit. If you think about it, most of those have something to do with how we relate to God and how we treat other people. Galations says, “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . .” That’s a pretty impressive list. My dad is a friend and encourager. He loves to help people who need a hand up. He believes that we should see the potential in everyone and let God tell them if they are in the wrong spot. He is also forgiving. I’ve watched him deal with people who hurt him and it is an awesome lesson in forgiveness and self-control. He just lets it go. And beyond that, when the hurtful person has something bad happen guess who’s the first on the scene. Yep, that’s my dad. He chooses to treat them with respect. He chooses not to say bad things about them. He rarely, if ever says something negative about someone. If he does, it’s worth paying attention to and is given as a warning rather than a condemnation. Through my dad’s daily example I have learned how to love the unlovable, how to be patient with others and myself, the meaning of true gentleness, the difference between meekness and weakness, and self-control. The overriding Bible principle for this dealing with others is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The actual verse says, “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them, likewise.” That’s one principle my dad bases his life on. It’s a powerful one.