You may have heard the story about a woman who was driving down the road with her 4-year old daughter, and beeped the horn by mistake. The little girl turned and looked a her mother for an explanation for the unexpected honk. “I did that by accident,” Mom said. “I know that,” the daughter replied, “’cause you didn’t say ‘JERK!’ afterward.”
It’s amazing how insightful little ones can be, and how easily they can figure us as adults out. Their impressionable little minds do pick up on what we do and say in different circumstances, and that is how they learn to respond to similar events as they grow up. We can tell them all we want, but what we show them is what really counts. As the old saying goes, there’s much more caught than taught.
When you teach your children to be kind to one another, do they see that in the way you respond in a traffic jam? When you tell them to be honest, do they get the same message when the telephone solicitor calls and you’re “not home”? When you teach them about sharing, do they see you do likewise with your precious “stuff?” They will imitate you more than you know.
Even more so, when you teach them to love God, do they see your love for Him in your daily life? Does your life truly communicate the priority of a personal relationship with Christ, or is that just Sunday talk? Do the core values you say you hold dear play themselves out in your daily decisions involving people and work and time and money? In your faith real, or is it just talk?
I am a collector of religious cartoons, and one of my favorites is an old one I picked up years ago, that is so very simple. It’s a picture of a little boy, who is obviously arriving home from church to see his dad, sitting in his favorite chair reading the Sunday paper. The look on the father’s face says it all, as the child somewhat innocently asks, “What to know what I learned in Sunday School today, hypocrite?” Ouch!
The question for all of us is, does what we say and believe and teach match what we do and who we are? We must be careful, for we are being watched–not just by little eyes beneath us, but by a world out there who wants to know if the God we say we believe in is real. My prayer for you is that those who know you best will truly respect you most, because your words and actions are consistent, and your life, both publicly and privately, honors our Lord.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.