(By Amy Patterson)
“Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz from Jotbah. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Manasseh, had done. He followed the example of his father, worshiping the same idols his father had worshiped. He abandoned the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and he refused to follow the Lord’s ways” (2 Kings 21:19-22).
A few months ago as I was reading this passage, the words from verse 21 really stood out to me. Those words are, “He followed the example of his father.” Unfortunately for Amon, his father, as this passage says, “did evil in the Lord’s sight.” While reading those words, I thought, “How sad to have such a thing recorded about a person. What a terrible example his father was to him.”
Those words made me think of my own children. I had to ask myself, “What kind of an example am I setting for them?” It made me realize that the life I live before them and the example I am setting could have an effect on them in years to come.
Recently I was listening to a Focus on the Family broadcast with guest speaker Kevin Leman. I don’t even remember the gist of his message, but one thing that he said that has stuck with me is, “Be the person you want your child to be.”
That really spoke to me and took me back to this passage in 2 Kings, as I thought, “What do my kids see in me, in my actions and my reactions? Am I setting a godly example? Am I acting the way I would want them to act?”
The thoughts also went further than just the relationship with my children. I also started to focus on how my actions and the example I am can affect others around me: my husband, my co-workers, my friends, and even the people I cross paths with when just out and about running errands. A Max Lucado quote I read the other day stated, “Out of 100 people, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the believer.”
Ephesians 4:32 says: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
As I was growing up, this verse was on our living room wall, and even though I would have seen it and walked by it multiple times every day, I did not necessarily pay much attention to the words or give much heed to them and they never really meant much to me. It was just a text on the wall. This text is still in my parents’ house even though it is no longer on my mom’s living room wall.
At some point in the past, the living room was rearranged and the text was put up in a different room in the house. Over the past number of years when I would visit my parents, I would notice the text on the wall, where it now hangs in the basement, in my dad’s study. But again, I never really paid much attention to it or thought much about the words.
When I went to Newfoundland last June to be with my mom after my dad went home to heaven, I went into his study in the basement, and one of the first things that caught my eye was this text on the wall. At that moment, all I could see in that verse was my dad. All of a sudden it hit me. I realized that this was the verse that my dad lived by. For me, this was his motto verse. This was exactly the life my dad had lived.
When I thought of his life and how he treated other people, I saw his kindness, his tenderheartedness, and his forgiving spirit. At that moment, the life he lived spoke so much to me, and I was deeply grateful for his Christ-like example and the legacy he had left for me.
When I think of my dad, what stands out most to me is how much he loved the Lord and how he lived his life to prove it. He understood that being prepared for eternity is the most important thing in life. Salvation is the most important part of being prepared for eternity, but my dad also understood that living a life pleasing to his God and Savior counts for eternity. His example to me was definitely the opposite of the example Manasseh had been to his son.
In 2 Kings 22:1-2, we read of Josiah and the positive example David had on him.
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
I would just like to encourage you all to think about the example you are setting to those around you: your family members, your co-workers, your church family — and the lasting effects your example will have on those lives. May you have a desire to be a Christ-like example in all that you do.
As Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.”