Following the Footsteps

by Dr. Ken Matto

(2 Sam 13:1 & 11 KJV) And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. {11} And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.

In these two verses above we see the sorry situation which took place between Amnon, Tamar, and Jonadab. Amnon loved his half-sister Tamar and wanted to have sexual relations with her. We see as the story progressed that it was not really love that drove him to sin against his family, but lust. After he defiled her, the Bible goes on to say that Amnon hated her and his hatred for her transcended his love for her. So he found out that sin yields no good thing. The point of this story is not the sinful actions that took place but the fact that Amnon was David’s son. David had committed lustful sin with Bathsheba so we see that his son committed the same type of sin that he did. There was a ripple effect to David’s actions. Sometimes it may take a long while before there is a resurgence in “handed down” behavior, but nevertheless it will eventually rear its ugly head.

If a child sees a parent do something questionable, they may not use that technique right away but I can guarantee you that eventually when they get into the same situation, they will fall back on family habits. We can see this displayed prominently today in father and son relationships. We saw John Gotti Sr. and John Gotti Jr. both went to jail. We saw Mob Boss Joe Bonnano succeeded by his son William in the rackets. We read about Puritan Minister Increase Mather who fathered Cotton Mather who followed in his father’s steps. So here we have a few examples of children following in their father’s footsteps. Everything that a parent does will eventually have a ripple effect in the lives of their children. Now parents are not the only ones who affect other people, but each of us has a sphere of influence. I remember when I was a drinker in my BC days, there was this fellow who copied almost everything I did. If I wore a new hat, he would buy the same type. It was uncanny that he would do almost everything I did. Believe me I was not a leader of anything back then, just a typical bar drunk, yet my actions affected someone else without me even forcing them.

The lesson here is that we influence people even without us knowing about it. I am sure there are people in each of our lives who has influenced us in one way or another. The late Dr. Cook on the King’s Hour once told his radio audience that many times someone would walk up to him and ask him, “do you remember what you said 20 years ago.” He, of course, did not remember but many a time someone was in his audience and he helped influence someone either by word or by something he did. Sometimes we may influence people by means of third party. We may say or do something in someone’s hearing, and they may pass on the words or the actions to another. Now with the Internet, we can influence people in different lands without ever knowing that we are doing it. This is why as Christians it is absolutely important that we maintain a proper Christian lifestyle and perspective. We want to influence people for the good and not for bad.

All the actions which are taken by Christians are being watched by the world. There are many things we do in this world which are the same as this world. The question is, how do we do those chores? For example, we all have to work and be on the job for a certain amount of time. Do we do the same things that the unbelievers do? Do we get caught up in office gossip? Do we get caught up in taking extra breaks? Each of us needs to do a little bit of introspection. We are not just simply working but we are representing the Kingdom of God. Do you have a Christian bumper sticker on your car? Do you love to speed or give someone hand gestures? You have to make a decision, either you drive like the world and remove the sticker or you drive like a Christian. There is no in-between ground on obedience. Either you are or you aren’t! By the way, never drive crazy on your first day on a new job because you might be cutting off your new boss.

Family lines have been blessed or cursed by the actions of one or a few. If one reads about some of the long standing feuds in families, like the Hatfields and McCoys, which have been passed down from generation to generation. By the time it gets to the fourth generation, the reason for the feud has been forgotten. What I am basically trying to get across in this article is that each one influences another. Whether a person is saved or unsaved, influence can be a very powerful vehicle. As Christians we would like to influence those whom the Lord has placed in our paths in a good and godly manner. We need to keep a check on our words and actions. Influencing for Christ is an eternal matter.  (9/26/03)