It is a natural quality that there are certain behaviors within a family that are kept from the outside world. My father, Charlie Arnett, was widely and deeply respected by literally hundreds, if not thousands of people. In short reflection, considering that he preached for over seventy years in Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina, I’m sure that “thousands” would not be an exaggeration. He was rightly known as a man of principle and integrity, a lifelong scholar of the Bible and faithful preacher of the Gospel of Christ.
Yet, there were things that others didn’t know, private glimpses by some of the family and a few close friends, that showed other aspects of his character. He was not a hypocrite or a “Jekyll and Hyde” character; he was simply human. There are things that we all do in the closed circle of siblings or spouse or children that we keep hidden from the world. At least, we hope that they remain hidden. This curtain of secrecy is a part of the intimacy of family. It is always natural and often desirable.
But the darker side is that we sometimes use that curtain as excuse for bad behavior. We sometimes fail to show the same courtesy and decency toward family that we demand of ourselves in our interactions with the outside world. In the closed circuit world of family, we quit following the teachings of The Carpenter; instead of returning good for evil and blessings for cursing, we lash back in the ways of the world. At the least, we should keep in mind the proverb, “Where there is no fuel, the fire burns out.”
We ought to remember that whatever seed we plant will yield the harvest of its nature. No matter which side of the whitewashed walls of genetic reputation we may be standing on when we do our sowing, the seed of the briar will produce thorns that will ultimately form the bed on which we lie.